Albert Van Metre
My occupation is a builder and developer. I went through Officer Leadership school out here at Ft. Belvoir in 1946, and I've been in and out of this particular area since then. We started these apartments sometime in the early 60s and we've been building down here and renting these apartments since then. We have built houses all up and down Route 1, Plymouth Haven, Mt. Vernon, the Mt. Vernon sub-division, Fairfield and Collingwood and quite a few others. Land was available in this area and I guess that's the main reason. We built Mt. Vernon Woods and part of Rose Hill. I built Badger Park about 20 years ago, and Hollin Glen which is right next to Hollin Hills. All of our developments have been very successful around here. Our water tables are a little high at times, but otherwise it's all right.
We're sitting on one of his (George Washington's) farms and if you go into the back of this sub-division (Mt. Vernon Square) and see a great big tree back there, he mentions that tree in his papers. We've gone to quite an expense in surgery to save the darn thing.
I think the area is slowly improving. I thought it would improve a lot faster than it has. The widening of Route 1has done a great deal to eliminate some of the trash and mess that we have on Route 1. Houses are very difficult to sell right now and I really don't know why. Interest rates have been very high.
Route 1 had gotten to about as low as point as it could and the only thing to do economically was to tear down and rebuild. It hasn't happened as fast as;1 though it would, it didn't happen as fast as, say, Jefferson Davis Highway, where the Crystal City situation has occurred almost overnight, and that looked just like this or worse 10 years ago. It's my feeling that Route 1 has nothing but a very, very bright future. The economic value of most of the trash along here is very small which means that it's more economical to tear down and start over again than to try and just keep on and on with a poor and shabby looking place. One thing we'd like to see, as I live in this area, is that the county not approve the redecoration of some of these marginal establishments, that they be required to be torn down and started over again. A building that's too close to the highway or a building that is really an eyesore may be a menace to the health and welfare of the community. Up and down Route 1 you can see old gas stations, old motels. Sometimes they take those and they'll put in a palmist or something like that and she can pay like $120 a month but it does not help Route 1 in general. I mean its a poor use of public property.
The state has built the highway (Route 1) and the state will do some beautification in planting grass and things of that nature, but if you want something nice you have to do it yourself.
Land prices have probably increased slower here than the rest of the county because there is so much junk down here. As that disappears, the prices, I think, will accelerate.