Its real name is Westchester Park, but residents call it an "island in the park" -- an enclave of town houses, garden apartments and two high-rise buildings hemmed in on three sides by Greenbelt National Park in Prince George's County.
The 12-acre tract built 25 years ago off Kenilworth Avenue near the Capital Beltway is both isolated and accessible. It is 25 minutes from downtown Washington, yet residents can walk through dense forests in the adjacent 1,176-acre parkland where some say they have seen deer and fox.
That's not the only attraction. "I have a 180-degree view of Washington right out my balcony," said Virginia Theis, a retired schoolteacher who lives on the 12th floor of one of Westchester Park's twin residential towers.
At ground level, there is a hushed atmosphere with no through traffic. A single access road loops among the neatly landscaped town houses and condominium buildings. A screen of trees and a high berm along Kenilworth Avenue hold noise from rush-hour traffic down to a distant roar.
"It's very quiet; no one comes in unless they're on business or visiting someone," said resident Don Kniffen, an astrophysicist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Westchester Park's population, estimated at 2,000, consists primarily of young professionals with few children and older or retired people, whose families have grown up. While there is a community pool, there are no playgrounds or other facilities for children.
"This has never become a family community," said Bob Crecco, president of the Westchester Park Civic Association.
Nevertheless, Theis said, "We have a nice spread of people of all ages. ... We have plenty of social occasions if you like that, or if you want to be left alone, you can do that."
Kniffen and his wife, Kay, moved to Westchester Park seven years ago from a farm in southern Prince George's County. There were two reasons, Don Kniffen said. One was to reduce his commuting time to NASA's nearby Goddard Space Flight Center. The other, he said, was that their three children had grown up "and condominium living seemed more convenient."
Of course, he added, there is the bonus of the "beautiful sunsets" from his 18th floor condo unit, and the view of the Capitol, Washington Monument, Washington Cathedral and other landmarks.
According to Crecco, Westchester Park has 30 town houses, 226 condominium garden apartments and 303 units in each of the twin towers. One tower contains rental units, the other condominiums.
The town houses, most of them with three bedrooms, range in cost from about $129,000 to $132,000, Crecco said, with a $428-a-month condominium fee for building and grounds maintenance.
Garden apartment condominiums start at about $50,000 for standard units and go to $75,000 for deluxe units, he said. Condominium fees are somewhat lower than those for the town houses.
Condominiums in the high-rise building start at about $50,000 for an efficiency, according to Kniffen, and go up to as much as $150,000 for a three-bedroom unit on an upper floor "with a good view." Monthly condo fees range from about $180 to $470, he said.
Crecco acknowledged that the condominium fees are relatively high at Westchester Park but said they cover all utilities, except telephone service, and help pay for a wide range of maintenance.
"We cut our own grass, do our own landscaping and sand and salt our own streets," he said. "The county doesn't do anything."
The rental tower has efficiencies and one-, two- and three-bedroom units starting from $595 to the $1,000 range, according to resident manager Joanna Costa.
The condominium tower contains the only commercial outlets in Westchester Park, a group of small shops including a barber, beauty parlor and convenience store.
A 17.4-acre tract of undeveloped land just south of Westchester Park has residents worried. Developers want to build commercial office buildings and 1,400 parking spaces there. But Crecco said the civic association has defeated rezoning attempts so far, and hopes to keep developers out permanently by having the county acquire the land under a Maryland state "open space program" as a buffer zone for the adjacent national parkland. The tract contains about one acre of environmentally sensitive wetlands, he said.
Alternatively, he said, the association may lobby Congress to have the land absorbed into the park.
Residents have a long-term interest in keeping Westchester Park as it is, Crecco said. "There's not much turnover," he said. "Half the people have been here since the beginning. ... They're here for keeps."