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Norbeck Grove offers camaraderie, a community pool and closeness to nature

The 20-year-old neighborhood of single-family houses and townhouses in Olney, Md., draws families young and old

Tracy Brosnan walks her dogs Oshie, left, and Wilson across a bridge in the forested area of Norbeck Grove, a neighborhood of 535 single-family houses and townhouses in Olney, Md. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)

Norbeck Grove, a neighborhood of 535 single-family houses and townhouses in Olney, Md., is a community that pulls together. Matt Hertz found that out firsthand when he and his family moved there five years ago. Just four months after moving in, his three-level Colonial burned to the ground.

“Almost immediately there were packages showing up, people randomly stopping me near the firetruck, giving me gift cards and clothes,” said Hertz, a litigation attorney. “I didn’t know anyone, and by the end of the month after the fire, we knew everyone in the neighborhood.”

The outpouring of support left a deep impression on Hertz, his wife and young daughters, so much so that he decided to serve on the Norbeck Grove Community Association Board and is now president.

In addition to the many friends the family has made, Hertz was attracted to the area for its natural beauty. Norbeck Grove, which was built in the late 1990s on farmland, is flanked by the northernmost part of Rock Creek Park.

“My house abuts up against the parkland,” Hertz said. “I look out my back door and it’s just trees and walking paths.”

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Driving down the main roads of the community, stately Colonials dot the landscape with sidewalks and good-sized lots between each home. Builders Greentree, Craftmark, Winchester and M/I Homes developed the community, offering a variety of classic styles to choose from.

“The homes are big, but they don’t look grandiose, which gives a more neighborhood vibe to the area,” Hertz said.

Larissa Fair, who’s lived in Norbeck Grove since 2017, says she enjoys the space and recreation areas where her two children, ages 6 and 1, play and explore near their four-bedroom, four-bathroom Craftmark home.

Fair said some older families in the 20-year-old community have raised their children and are ready to downsize, which has opened the neighborhood up to younger families with children.

“When we first moved here, there weren’t as many young children,” she said. “But over the past few years there’s been an explosion — a ton of kids under age 10.”

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Norbeck Grove also has a nice mix of young and old, according to Lorna Lucas, who moved to the neighborhood with her husband and two children about four years ago. She and her husband, who both work in the health-care industry, renovated their six-bedroom Colonial to include space for her parents, who live on the top floor of the house.

“We were looking for a place that could accommodate a multi-generation household that would give us all a little bit of our own space,” she said. Her parents have a private bedroom, bathroom and living room with a fireplace.

In fact, Lucas’s entire family now lives in Norbeck Grove. After growing up in a nearby Olney neighborhood and attending Montgomery County Public Schools, she and her siblings enjoyed the area so much they decided to stay.

Her brother’s family moved to Norbeck Grove a few years before her, giving Lucas a sneak peek at the neighborhood. She liked what she saw: camaraderie, family-friendly neighbors, walking trails and a community pool. Now she lives just four houses away from her brother, and her sister’s family has moved to Norbeck Grove as well.

“It’s been an automatic social life,” she said. “Now we just text around to see who wants to go to the pool or a nearby brewery, and someone’s always up for it.”

Residents automatically are members of the Norbeck Grove Community Association pool and clubhouse, which is included in their homeowner association fees. HOA fees are $71 per month for single-family homes, $79 for condominiums and $113 for townhouses. Fees can be paid monthly, by quarter or annually. (A discount applies if paid annually.)

Hertz said the pool is the social center of the neighborhood in the summer. Both of his children are on the swim team, and he likes that it’s not too competitive, with kids of all ages cheering one another on.

“I can’t say enough about the swim team there,” Hertz said.

Real estate agent Josie Bulitt, who grew up in Norbeck Grove, agrees.

“The pool and clubhouse are a regular place for neighbors to hang out,” she said.

Bulitt, who works for the Agency DC, looks back fondly at her childhood in Norbeck Grove.

“My family was one of the first to move into Norbeck Grove when it was being developed,” she said. “It’s still the same as it was when I was a kid, running across the street to grab a Popsicle from the Good Humor man, with friends playing in the yards, streets and playgrounds.”

Bulitt says the wealth of activities available in Olney also draws home buyers to Norbeck Grove. The Olney Boys and Girls Club offers playing fields and sports activities and a new Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League team will be starting to play there this year. Lake Needwood is less than 10 minutes away, and a major shopping center with two grocery stores is just off of Georgia Avenue. Two breweries — Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company, which sits just north of Norbeck Grove, and Brookville Beer Farm — are nearby.

Larissa Fair’s Facebook group may represent another key to Norbeck Grove’s strong reputation. She says she started the group during the pandemic, thinking that families with children have questions that sometimes real estate agents don’t have answers for: Such as, are there playgrounds? Are there open spaces? Now her Montgomery County MD Real Estate Listings for Families group has almost 2,000 members, and she has personally helped three families buy homes off-market in Norbeck Grove.

“They’re looking for what we have: really good neighbors, kids for their kids to play with, activities and a good school nearby,” she said.

Living there: Norbeck Grove’s boundaries are Bowie Mill Road to the south, Wickham Road to the east, Tackbrooke Drive to the north and Rock Creek Park to the west.

Bulitt says the community remains popular for buyers. No houses or townhouses are on the market. Over the past year, the average sales price for a single-family home was $891,000 and the average sales price for a townhouse was $542,000. A total of 13 single-family homes sold from February 2021 to the present and five townhouses were sold.

The lowest sale price of a single-family house was $800,000 for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial on a 0.28 acre lot. The highest sale price of a single-family house was $1 million for a five-bedroom, four-bathroom Craftmark house on a 0.52 acre lot. The lowest sale price of a townhouse was $540,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. The highest sale price of a townhouse was $600,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a two-car garage.

Schools: Olney Elementary, Rosa Parks Middle School, Sherwood High School.

Transportation: Shady Grove Metro station on the Red line is a 15 minute drive. Metro bus runs along nearby Georgia Avenue. Montgomery County Ride On buses go from Shady Grove Metro station to Glenmont Metro station through Olney.