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Immigration, Demand Alter Historic Nauck

By Susan Straight
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, August 14, 2004; Page G01

Neighbors Bernard Posey and Jose Rivera are friendly, but they don't communicate much.

Posey is a third-generation resident of Arlington's Nauck neighborhood. He inherited his grandparents' house and lives among many neighbors who knew them -- both pastors at local churches -- since about 1950.

In Nauck, big new homes sometimes can be found adjacent to modest-sized older ones. (Susan Straight For The Washington Post)


BOUNDARIES: Walter Reed Drive to the west, Interstate 395 to the east, South Glebe Road to the north and Four Mile Run Drive to the south.

SCHOOLS: Drew Elementary, Gunston Middle and Wakefield High schools.

HOME SALES: Two homes have sold in the past 12 months, for $295,000 and $475,000, said Kathleen Gibbons, associate broker with McEnearney Realtor Associates. Three homes are under contract, with list prices from $324,500 to $499,700. There are no active sales listings.

WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE: Shirlington shops, restaurants and movie theater, Four Mile Run bike trail, Green Valley Pharmacy, barbershop, billiards, Metrobus stops along Glebe Road.

WITHIN 10 MINUTES BY CAR: I-395, Pentagon, Baileys Crossroads, Clarendon, Crystal City, Pentagon City, Reagan National Airport, Washington.

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Rivera and his wife and son, Salvadoran immigrants, have been in the United States for three years and are still trying to decide where they want to put down roots. For eight months, they have been renting a small brick attached home in Nauck, and say they find the neighborhood very peaceful.

But because Posey doesn't speak Spanish and Rivera doesn't speak English, they don't share much beyond a fence line.

"He's nice. He's quiet," Posey said.

Rivera, a construction worker, can't communicate with his English-speaking neighbors, but, increasingly, there are others in Nauck who do speak his language. "There are other Spanish speakers here," he said in a Spanish interview. "I like it. It's a very peaceful neighborhood."

Nauck, one of Arlington County's early communities of freed slaves, slopes downhill from the Glebe Road corridor to the Shirlington area and Interstate 395. Among the first African Americans to build a home there were Levi and Sarah Ann Jones in 1844. Freed slaves joined them after the Civil War when Freedman's Village (near present-day Arlington Cemetery) closed in 1898 and its 1,000 residents moved to other areas, including Nauck and nearby Arlington View.

Many of Nauck's families go back two or more generations in the brick and wood single-family houses, duplexes, townhouses and cooperative apartments that make up the hilly neighborhood that rises high over Arlington.

However, the long-stable African American enclave is changing, as Arlington deals both with a growing group of Hispanic immigrants and with demand for upscale close-in housing from affluent home buyers.

In 1990, 8 percent of the population of Nauck was Hispanic. By 2000, this had grown to 21 percent. In 1990, about 15 percent of Nauck was white and roughly 76 percent was African American. Ten years later, the proportion of whites had stayed nearly constant, at 16 percent, while the proportion of African Americans had dropped to 56 percent.

"The community is in the throes of change," said longtime resident and Alexandria schoolteacher Jacqueline Coachman. It's not just racial change, it's economic change, too. "We're pleased but alarmed by the new townhouses going up because they're so far above the cost of the rest of the neighborhood," she said.

Coachman was born in Nauck and grew up there. Although she left when she was 18 years old, she came home at least once a week to visit family.

When she moved back home in 1997, she was glad to know she wasn't alone. A number of her high school friends and acquaintances had also returned to the community to live with family or care for aging parents.

Asked whether the new residents are becoming part of the old community, Coachman said, "We welcome new development, but we now have a community within a community. We haven't gone outside ourselves to bring them in and that's probably something we could work on."

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