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Merrifield Town Center

Chrissy at the little park at the Merrifield Town Center on June 27, 2009 

The redevelopment around the Dunn Loring Metro and the Merrifield Town Center is moving slowly but inexorably along.   The plan has been in place since before we bought our house in 1997.  Basically, the plan is for something like a metro transit-oriented development like in Arlington from Ballston to Roslyn.   We are a little farther out and this area will be more car friendly.  For example, they are widening Gallows Road,  so they had to tear down various fast food places (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut etc).  There is still nothing in those places, but farther down they have started to build condominiums and planning the town center too.

Lee Highway Multiplex Building in Merrifield VA on June 26, 2009 

The economic downturn slowed some of the plans, but is not stopping them.  Above is the old multiplex cinema.  It is shut down now.  They owned a really big area of parking lots.  Originally, it was a drive in.  Anyway, much of the parking area will eventually be developed into condos and retail space.  Parking will be in multistory parking garages.   Below is the old surface parking lot.  There is a series on History Channel called "Life Without People".  It shows how fast nature returns when people leave.  You can something of that here and it has only been a year.

Parking lot at Lee Highway Multiplex on June 26, 2009

Below used to be a Pizza Hut.  It is always amazing to me how small the footprint of a building looks when the structure is gone.  

Former Pizza Hut site on Gallows Road in Merrifield VA on June 26, 2009 

Below are shops in the new Merrifield Town Center.  It is a good example of mixed use.  There is residential on top, parking below and retail on street level, all within walking distance of the metro.  I am glad they are building, if slowly.  The shops are a little yuppified.  I got a ice cream cone that cost $5.23.  It was a fancy cone, but that is a little too much to pay, IMO.  It reminds me of the old story about the horse who walks into a bar.   The bartender says, "We don't get many horses in here."  The horse replies, "With these prices, I am not surprised." 

Shops at Merrifield Town Center in Merrifield Virginia on June 26, 2009 

Below are dawn redwoods.  Chrissy had them planted at our complex when she was home-owner association president.  They will be one of her lasting contributions.  Dawn redwoods are related to our redwoods and sequoias as well as baldcypress.  Like baldcypress, they are deciduous and they look like baldcypress, except dawn redwoods are more pyramidal.  In their native forests in Sichuan and Hubei Provinces in China, they grow rapidly to around 90 feet.  They were thought to be extinct until  groves were discovered in the Chinese mountains in 1948. Since they are recent introductions to Virginia, nobody is sure how big they will get here, but they are growing very fast and strong.   Sometimes trees grow better away from their native ranges.   California redwoods, for example,  were introduced to New Zealand.  There are some growing there that are around 150 years old and doing even better than they do in California.  Experts expect that within a few years the tallest redwoods, so the tallest trees in the world, will be in New Zealand. Redwoods may live 2000 years, but they do most of their growing early in their lives.

Dawn redwoods at Providence Forest townhouse complex in Merrifield Virginia on June 26, 2009 

One more joke - A horse walks into a bar.  The bartender asks, "Why the long face?"

Below - neglect can be a good thing.  This is one of those drainage holes that they usually keep mowed.  Evidently, they lost control of this one and it is more distinct.  I like the cattails. 

Cattails at a drainage area near the future Merrifield Town Center on June 26, 2009 


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How about planting some Wollemi Pines to go with the Dawn Redwoods?


Thanks for your continued attention.

Wollemi pines won't tolerate even our mild Virginia winters. They die if it gets much below freezing. Besides, they are hard to get.

Anyway, the reason we chose the dawn redwoods was because they are beautiful trees that are fast growing, adaptive and resiliant. It was not only a conservation measure. Actually, I wanted to plant some tupelo in the wet parts of the property but the dawn redwoods are more popular.

Dawn Redwoods are well suited to acidic Virgina clay soils and will grow to over 100 feet with ample sunlight and water. We have one in our front yard that tall (and two others that are over 50 feet tall in the nearby neighborhood in Falls Church). I suspect these were planted sometime between 1955 and the mid 196Os.

Beautiful trees.

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