September 13, 2008
By David Driver
For the Washington Post
Used with permission
After Suzanne Glenn's apartment and car were broken into in 1973, she wanted to move someplace safe.
"It was creepy-crawly to go back there," she said of her former residence in Falls Church.
At the time, she had a friend who lived in Horizons East and West, a two-building apartment complex in North Arlington that opened 40 years ago.
Glenn moved into a one-bedroom apartment on the eighth floor of the East building. Some 35 years later, the North Carolina native is still there, with a balcony view near Lee Highway, only 15 minutes from her beloved Kennedy Center.
"It was not my intention to stay here this long," Glenn said. "But life happens. Careers happen."
Glenn spent 33 years working for the CIA before she retired about 10 years ago. From 1973 to 1998, she was stationed at agency headquarters in McLean, which meant a short commute against traffic.
Now that she is retired, Glenn finds herself driving the opposite direction into the District to attend operas and plays.
"I like to go to the Kennedy Center. I like to be close to Washington," she said, while sitting in the lobby one recent afternoon.
The Horizons is about one mile from the Ballston Metro station and less than a block from a Metrobus stop. There are several shops, restaurants and banks a few blocks away at the Lee Heights shopping center. There are tennis and basketball courts just across the street at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary school playground.
Apartments at Horizons come with a large, private balcony or patio. The upper balconies have views of the Washington Monument, making Horizons a great place to watch the July 4 fireworks.
"They are nice, big apartments," said Glenn, who added that Horizons attracts renters in various stages of life. "You have people with children, young professionals, elderly. It runs the gamut."
Security is still important to Glenn, who appreciates the controlled access to both buildings. There is also 24-hour emergency maintenance, and Glenn said it took her just minutes to get a new key one recent afternoon when her old one didn't work.
Feeling safe is also vital to newcomers such as Saira Khattak, who moved to the Horizons with her three young children in April.
Khattak lived for nearly 10 years in Northern Virginia with relatives after she moved from her native Pakistan. Horizons, owned by Gates, Hudson & Associates, is the first place she has rented in the United States.
"It is clean. It is nice. It is secure," she said of the two-bedroom apartment that she rents for $1,550.
Khattak said one drawback is the lack of a playground on site. On a recent afternoon, with the temperature near 90 degrees, she walked several blocks with her children to a playground on Woodstock Street.
To help beat the heat, residents have access to a pool at a property in Rosslyn that is also managed by GHA.
Among residents who take advantage of the pool in Rosslyn is Janet McHale, who teaches second grade in Springfield. She moved late in the school year from Fairfax into a three-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor at Horizons.
"I really like it. It is pretty spacious," said McHale, who shares the apartment with two other teachers.
"I think the location is the best thing about it," she said. "And the rent is pretty good compared to other places."
Glenn, the 35-year resident, said Horizons has been home over the years to diplomats, noted chefs and a photographer whose work appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine.
Robert H. Brink, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 1998, has lived at the Horizons for two years. He said the convenience to downtown Washington and his office nearby on Lee Highway were key draws.
"It is an excellent location in terms of proximity to D.C. and Tysons Corner and the Dulles corridor," Brink said. "Within Arlington it is very easy to get around. I have a lot of places I need to get to. In terms of the complex itself, it is very well maintained."
Brink spends most of January and February at the General Assembly in Richmond. He needs to be in downtown Washington regularly the rest of the year.
"Generally what I do is drive down to Rosslyn and park there for a few hours and commute into Washington," he said.
"All of the stores are close, from my tire place at George Mason Drive and Lee Highway, down to Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe and a strip of shops at Lee Heights," he said.
And he's discovered the same things that attracted Glenn 35 years ago: "It is a very friendly kind of place. When you have a lot of activity with people coming and going, it is a safe and secure type of feeling."