For years, developers have been trying to buy out the little subdivision of Hollinswood, strategically located next to the bustling Tysons Corner shopping center in Washington's Virginia suburbs.
Over the years, Hollinswood has been nibbled away, but mostly the owners said no. Herbert W. Spruill, who came to Hollinswood 25 years ago with his wife Marjorie, said, "We were completely isolated then. The place (Tysons Corner) was all wooded. No one knew we existed. It was an ideal place to raise children."
The owners held out even after Hollinswood was dwarfed by the sprawling Tysons shopping center, a 400-room Marriott hotel still being built, and the Capital Beltway. In front of the hotel, at the two entrances to Hollinswood, are a Shell service station and a Roy Rogers Family Restaurant.
The home-owners still said no after the Virginia highway department gobbled up one lot for a new beltway exit, and shoplifters and purse snatchers fleeing the Tysons shopping mall would hide in the wooded lots.
Now, all but one of the owners have finally said yes.
The package deal 22 residents have agreed to sell their homes to a developer who wants to build a shiny new office tower on the 11 acres. The owners reportedly will get $8.61 a square foot for their half-acre lots, or about $189,000 each.
The money won't materialize until after the buyer, Tycon Developers Limited Partnership, gets the highrise zoning it seeks. That decision will be made by the Fairfax Board of Supervisors in September.
Meanwhile, the homeowners who have signed sales contracts aren't shedding many tears about the end of their peaceful little enclave of suburban life.
"I'm just sitting back, waiting to see what happens," said Hubert R. Spaulding Jr., who lives at 1911 Dogwood La."I didn't want to move from here. I was raised at Tysons Corner. I built my own house 15 years ago. But the contract is pretty good."
Hollinswood originally consisted of about 45 brick-and-shingle colonial houses built in the late 1940s. Over the past decade, the subdivision lost HOUSES TO THE SHOPPING CENTER, WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY DEVELOPER theodore Lerner, and another group that bought lots on behalf of Marriott.
But the group of 22 homeowners whose land made up the desirable 11 acres wanted more money than the $5 and $6 per square foor their neighbors had accepted earlier.
"Our interest was to hold together as a bloc and get the best deal," said Spruill.
The only resident who's still waiting is Julia A. Chryst, who has lived for 27 years at 1938 Dogwood La., right next to the beltway exit and across the street from the Marriott hotel.
Unable to keep construction dirt and mud from being tracked into her house, Chryst says, "We're just camping out, waiting to get a reasonable offer and relocate. I'm not fighting to stay here."
Chryst, who, with her late husband reared five sons and a daughter in the house, says she wants $10 or more for each of her 23,126 square feet -- or about $231,000. The county appraises her property at about $53,500, but that is based on its residential, not its commercial, value.
"I'm not at all worried, she says. "I'll get what I want.'
She may be right.
If Tycon builds its Hollinswood project, the only vacant land left in the area will be the Providence Baptist Church property a stone's throw from Bloomingdale's at Tysons Corner, and the single lot owner by Chryst.