News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, September 19, 2016

We're #28! 'Hunter Mill,' Which Is A Place, Loses Big to Ashburn and Columbia, Despite Prominent Barn in Photo


Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just four short years ago, our beloved earth-toned community was ranked the 7th best place to live in the nation by listicle-generating sweatshop Money magazine. Someone defrost Kasey Kasem's cryogenically frozen skull, as we're now TUMBLING DOWN THE CHARTS. This year, we're ranked 28th -- and lumped in with Herndon, Vienna, Paris Tysons, and all the McMansions connecting them like a stucco-and-Klonopin-filled lymphatic system. Give us some good blockquote, Listy McListicleface:

Hunter Mill isn’t a traditional town—it encompasses parts of several Fairfax County communities, including Reston, Herndon, Vienna, and Tysons Corner. But that special blend gives the Hunter Mill District many qualities that make is a great place to raise a family. Residents here have access to government jobs in Washington, D.C., retail jobs at Tysons Corner Center (the largest shopping mall in the state), and the tech jobs at AOL, Microsoft, and Accenture in the Dulles Technology Corridor. Indeed, Hunter Mill’s unemployment rate is just 3.2%, well below the national average.

In addition, Civil War history buffs revel in Hunter Mill’s past. Because the area was split between Northern and Southern sympathizers, Hunter Mill Road, which runs through the area, supported encampments of both Union and Confederate armies. Meanwhile, present-day Hunter Mill plays host to annual events such as the two-day Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, ukulele and jazz festivals, and Taste of Reston Food Festival. That strong community spirit can also be found at Frying Pan Farm Park—the site for the Hunter Mill Melodies summer-long concert series. Still, Hunter Mill suffers from two common Northern Virginia problems: bad traffic (one study found that three of the nation’s worst bottlenecks are in Northern Virginia), and expensive housing (the typical home sold for $502,000 through July of 2016).

THAT BARN THOUGH. We don't know if the stress-addled listicle-monkeys at Money did a quick Google search for "Metro station Hunter Mill" and this was the first result that popped up, or if they think that we collectively spend every weekend at Frying Pan park, pretending to be farmers instead of, whazzitcalled, "service providers" for the gubmint.

But the hits keep coming! Reston's doppelganger Columbia ranked FIRST, for reasons that seem oddly familiar to the original planned community:

Columbia also owes its success to an idea—or maybe it’s an ideal. Founded in the late ’60s, the town made the concept of community building part of the master plan. Each of the 10 bucolically named villages (Wilde Lake, Oakland Mills) includes a mix of residences— apartments, townhomes, and single-family houses—to promote socioeconomic diversity. Individual homes don’t have mailboxes; they’re collected in groups on each cul-de-sac or block to encourage neighborly mixing. Some people worship at a church or synagogue, but others prefer an “interfaith center,” where the faiths rotate through a communal space.

The master plan guides economic development as well. Offices and retail centers are sprinkled strategically around the villages. Mid-rise office buildings are clustered downtown between the Columbia Mall and Lake Kittamaqundi, which is surrounded by an exercise path, restaurants, and the town’s celebratory symbol of inclusiveness: the 35-foot-high metal sculpture The People Tree.

"The People's Tree." Listicle ranking or not, our kickass Triffids would devour that hunk of metal in no time. And there's this:
“I sometimes tell people this is a little bit like the Land of Oz,” says Gary Ahrens, a retired high school teacher and counselor who sells real estate for Keller Williams.
Right down to the demonic undertones.

But we digress! It's one thing to be beat out by a clone. It's another to be beat out by an anxiety attack made solely out of particleboard and a Quizno's. That's right, Ashburn ranked six places higher, at #22. Accompanied by a lovely photo of the bread lines that invariably will pop up once gas goes up to $13 a gallon and people realize there's no mass transit, the Ashburn writeup focuses largely on one thing:

At the town’s epicenter is One Loudoun, a community that blends offices, shops, restaurants, entertainment, condominiums, and hotels where people gather for outdoor concerts, farmer’s markets, 5K races, and the December tree lighting ceremony.
That's right, their Fake Fake Downtown. Where, by the way, parking is still free. As it is at Columbia's mall-anchored downtown. What is it they say again about two being a coincidence, but three is a trend?


  1. How is it that the "Ukulele" and "Jazz" festivals were unable to boost us to the top of the list? Go figure.

  2. "a stucco-and-Klonopin-filled lymphatic system."

    Or, as I like to call it, Rt. 7.

  3. The horror, the horror!

  4. Must be the tear-down of the Brutalist bunker that did us in. After all, they are brutally ugly, but those boxy ugly data centers are all over Ashburn with many more on the way.

    Oh, and for the ignorant, the place is just "Tysons" now. No apostrophe and no corner. It may soon have corners, but while it didn't we imagined them in the place name.

  5. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonSeptember 20, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    Don't let it go to your head,Colombia. Here's just a partial list of what we have and you don't:

    -- Certified history as a homicidal nudist colony

    -- Unparalleled corporate doublespeak from Rob Weinhold

    -- Paul Blart-style security at Reston Town Center

    -- Speaking of RTC, the cougars at Jacksons

    -- Doppelganger in Manitoba. All you got is some freaking state capital in South Carolina

    -- Supervisor for Life Cathy Hudgins

    -- Proximity to Tysons, America's Next Great City

    -- A ban on pastels, oversized compost bins, and red mulch

    -- A stucco wasteland named Tall Oaks

    -- A deadly virus named in our honor. Ever hear of Ebola Colombia? Nah, didn't think so.

    -- The freaking awesome Silver Line and the even more freaking awesome parking garage at the Willie Reston East station

    -- This website

    Put your award in your pipe and go smoke it, Colombia!

  6. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonSeptember 20, 2016 at 8:42 PM

    Ay caramba! The Peasant needs to go back to school for Remedial Geography 101 to remember the difference between the Colombia in South America and the Columbia in Maryland. Just like the difference between FARC and MARC.


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