Thousands of commuters pass Pimmit Hills everyday, but most never notice.
Overshadowed by Tysons Corner and tucked between Leesburg Pike and the Dulles Access Road, the community is one of the most affordable neighborhoods inside the Capital Beltway.
Despite the chaotic commercial life around it, Pimmit Hills is a calm oasis of oak trees and quarter-acre lots, attracting first-time home buyers to homes with $110,000 to $130,000 price tags.
The single-family homes were first constructed in the early 1950s for GIs returning from the Korean War, and priced at about $10,000. They were simply built, and most did not have basements, gutters or curbs.
In recent years, owners who wanted bigger, fancier homes have often chosen to remodel their Pimmit Hill homes instead of move because they like the area's convenient location and sizable yards. By now the majority of the houses boast alterations, with additions ranging from entire new floors to new porches.
Kitty Bolinger, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker, said that although there are $500,000 homes within a few minutes drive from Pimmit Hills, the community has the "lowest price for a single-family detached home inside the Beltway." Many Pimmit Hills buyers are young professionals and others earning from $30,000 to $40,000 who are looking for their first homes, she said.
Because the houses are so close to the concrete skyline of Tysons Corner, rumors circulate constantly that developers will demolish the houses and build another commercial center in their place. A few investors have even bought homes believing that they would reap profits if a developer decided to buy up the property.
"Fairfax County assures us that it won't happen because of the desperate need for housing in this price range," said Carl Zimmer, a resident since 1961 and a director of the Pimmit Hills Citizens' Association.
Most real estate professionals and officials agree, and say the 633-acre neighborhood with its 1,700 homes is too large for a successful commercial takeover.
The Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library on Leesburg Pike, a state-of-the-art facility built in 1984, is the pride of the neighborhood and the center of many of its activities. The civic association, one of the county's largest and most active, meets there, as do various groups interested in everything from completing tax forms to taping cable television shows.
"We have a combination of everything," said Bernard G. Studds, a longtime resident. "We have a lot of youths coming in now, some married folks, some yuppies, some people who have been here since 1953. It's a good mix."
Since Studds moved to the area in 1964, Pimmit Hills has "grown to be a better community; it brought itself up," he said. "People in the community band together. It is not a selfish community, it's an overall thing. People care."
Richard J. Kerch, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9274 in Fairfax County, draws many of his 418 members from Pimmit Hills. It is a neighborhood where you see "more flags flying than usual," he said.
While increased traffic congestion is creating more problems for almost all Fairfax County residents, including those in Pimmit Hills, the proximity of I-66, the Beltway and Leesburg Pike allows Pimmit Hills residents to commute to jobs in Bethesda, Baltimore and other places outside the county with relative ease.