For two years, Peggy Hightower refused all offers to sell the home on Glebe Road where she lived for 31 years.
But eventually Hightower gave in. The money was good, and she just didn't feel at home anymore because of development's march into the Nauck area of south Arlington.
"I felt it was no longer my neighborhood," said Hightower, a retired schoolteacher who sold her house in 1988 and now lives in a condominium about a mile from Nauck.
A predominantly black enclave bounded by Four Mile Run, Walter Reed Drive, Glebe Road and the Army Navy Country Club, Nauck was founded by middle-class blacks after the Civil War. Its residents include families who have lived there for six generations.
It was a place where children grew up, bought homes and had children of their own. It was also a place where housing was moderately priced, one of the few in the county.
But Nauck is changing. Thirty $200,000 town houses recently sprouted along Hightower's Glebe Road. Single-family homes are being bought up by developers; houses that sold for $80,000 a couple of years ago now bring twice as much.
The latest cause for concern in Nauck is a plan by S&A Partnership, part of the Arlington development firm of Wills and Albrittain, to build 51 town houses on 1.7 acres near South Glebe and Shirlington roads. The town houses would start at about $150,000, still on the low end of the housing market in Arlington, where homes cost an average of nearly $250,000.
The changes are creating strong resentment among many residents of the community. They say young people, especially the young black families who had sustained Nauck, can't afford to buy the new town houses or the single-family homes that have skyrocketed in price.
"Current residents are being pushed out," said Portia Clark, who has owned a home on South Kenmore in Nauck for nine years. "A lot of families in the community are low-income. They need to build housing to meet the need of the existing community."
Like Hightower, many current and former residents of Nauck complain about the loss of a stable black neighborhood amid the influx of affluent whites. They say development has polarized the area, with Glebe Road becoming the dividing line between the traditionally black and new white sections of the community.
Longtime residents fear their way of life, centered on the area's churches and community centers, is disappearing as many black families are priced out of the area.
"The caucasians moving in now wouldn't be caught dead going to a Nauck Civic Association meeting," Hightower said.
Some blacks say the new residents are likely to stay only long enough to see their property appreciate in value, which will disrupt the stability of the neighborhood.
But other black residents say that while they would rather see the new homes occupied by middle-income blacks, they do not oppose whites moving into the neighborhood.
"Twenty or 25 years ago we fought for integration in housing," said community activist John Robinson, a lifelong Nauck resident. "Now we have to open up the community to all people."
With Interstate 395 just a short way down Glebe, and with the Shirlington and Pentagon City shopping malls just minutes away, Robinson said he is not surprised that Nauck, formerly shunned by whites because of its crime and drug problems, is being discovered by whites.
"This is prime property," Robinson said. "You can get to Washington in 10 minutes if the Shirlington Highway is not crowded. So, of course, the white people want to move onto this land."
Whites who have recently moved to the community say that what attracted them was the comparatively low prices of houses there.
"It's about the only place I could afford to buy," said Richard Herwig, who moved two years ago to a three-bedroom town house in a 31-unit complex that was once the site of three single-family houses.
Herwig said he looked for a house in north Arlington before moving to Nauck, but found the prices too high.
"I'm in the same boat" as many blacks now priced out of the community, Herwig said. "I'm moving into their territory because I'm pushed out of mine."
Nauck residents such as Robinson are more critical of blacks who sell to developers and move away than of the whites who replace them.
"Now, when the older generation dies out, the younger generation generally sells the land," Robinson said. "But we've got to teach black people the value of property."