The prevailing infill product in suburban D.C. has been condos stacked on top of each other in a 2-over-2 layout and design. This traditional solution has provided builders and developers with desired densities. But construction costs—such as stairs and rigorous fire codes—can be less attractive, and the configuration can create marketing challenges with mismatched home sizes and prices.

“We wanted to do something more creative, something that would ‘live’ more like a townhome,” recalls Diane Cox Basheer (B&E), a principal with the builder/developer Basheer & Edgemoore, about 12 acres it began developing in late 2011 in Woodbridge, Va., near the historic Occoquan downtown district and river, convenient to I-95 and mass transit into the nation’s capital.

For answers it turned to KTGY Group, the national architectural and planning firm, which has an office in Tysons Corner, Va. Mike Kingsley, a KTGY principal, says B&E wasn’t the only builder/developer looking for an alternative to 2 over 2s, “something less complex and not under restrictive building codes,” but without losing any units in the process.

The design KTGY devised positions four 18- and 20-foot-wide townhouses side by side, with ground-level front entrances. That cluster is bookended by back-to-back 24-foot-wide townhouses with entrances on the side. The first floors feature 9-foot-high ceilings, and each of the eight townhouses has a one-car garage. The building’s layout opens up more backyard space, with options for one or two patios or decks.

Kingsley and Smita Anand, a principal with KTGY’s low-density group, note that this concept, with its three-story elevation and cleaner streetscape, wouldn’t have been possible without cooperation from the municipality to ensure the design met existing zoning requirements.

The result is a community called Potomac Crest, where B&E offers four models ranging from 1,310 to 2,100 square feet. It will build 76 townhouses, and through mid-April had sold 15 at an average price of $350,000. B&E expects to sell at least 40 units by the end of this year.

John Caulfield is a senior editor at Builder.