For Max Beckler, who grew up in New York City, living in Charles County’s Kingsview neighborhood is akin to moving to the “wilderness.”
Although the subdivision, in the northern part of the county, is just about a half-hour from Washington, getting into Kingsview from Route 210 requires a ride through the woods along winding, rolling Billingsley Road.
“I’m used to the sounds of traffic, and here, there’s none of that,” Beckler said, admitting that “it’s a little disconcerting.”
But Beckler, 32, who moved into his newly built home last November, is happy with his new surroundings. He had been renting in Alexandria, but Kingsview gave him the opportunity to purchase a home built to his specifications. Beckler and his girlfriend had looked at existing homes, “but the price difference was so small, we could see no reason not to buy a new home,” he said.
New homes are still going up in Kingsview, even though the first homes in the subdivision were built back in 1996. As each phase was constructed, the styles of the homes have changed and the sizes have grown. The early homes, many built by Miller & Smith, range between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, while many of the newest homes, constructed by K&P Builders, are 3,000 square feet or more with upgrades such as bump-out morning rooms.
The homes have proved to be a draw for government workers and military families who have found that Kingsview offers a reasonable commute to work centers in the District and Northern Virginia, as well as military bases throughout the region. “We finally found our niche with bigger houses,” said Marie Lally, an agent who coordinates new sales for K&P. Lally says most homes are sold to commuting workers with two incomes.
And despite the rural surroundings, including the Mattawoman Creek watershed, Kingsview itself has the kind of urban amenities not always found in an outer suburb. One of the larger developments in western Charles County, Kingsview features more than 400 single-family homes and about 130 townhouses. About 50 more homes are yet to be built, Lally said. Residents have access to a community center, nature trails, tennis courts, ball fields and a swimming pool, and Kingsview is served by public water and sewer systems.
Chris and Mark Michienzi, who commute to jobs at the Pentagon and Crystal City, respectively, have found Kingsview fits their needs for work and leisure time. The former Waldorf residents were looking for a bigger home with a sizable kitchen area, which their Kingsview home provides. Their family room in the rear of the home backs to a wooded tract. “That’s one of the things that attracted us to this particular lot,” said Chris, 49, who said the “outdoorsy” location of Kingsview made it “feel different than some of the other neighborhoods.” Plus, she added, “we’re still in Charles County, where we still have a lot of friends,” and they can easily visit other friends in Virginia.
Shirley Allen and her husband, Dudley, were a military family from Alabama when they found Kingsview back in 1999. They were looking for a safe, “kinda secluded” neighborhood, said Shirley Allen. “I personally like the natural environment,” said Allen, whose home is adjacent to a protected natural area. “I like to walk, I love to work in my yard.” Allen sees deer, foxes and the occasional wild turkey from her home, and in her retirement, she enjoys walking all over the neighborhood.
Allen’s neighbor, Curtis Howard, also relishes her view of the forest. Howard, who moved in with her husband, Walter, in 1997, was one of the first to purchase a single-family home in Kingsview. “I grew up in the country,” she said, “and it reminded me of where I grew up.”
Most residents also take pride in their yards, Howard added. “In the spring, people work hard to get their properties in order for the betterment of the community,” she said.
Lillie White and her husband, Earl, had lived in nearby Fort Washington and were looking for a home with more space and a more versatile floor plan, Lillie White said. They also commute to jobs in Northern Virginia. Traffic on Route 210 can be considerable, she said, but White’s work hours at a law firm allow her to avoid a lot of the traffic.
Neighborhoods such as Kingsview and nearby western Charles County subdivisions have always been a draw for government and military families, said Melinda Roark, an agent for Re/Max 100 who has lived in that part of the county for nearly 25 years.
The downturn in the real estate market affected Kingsview and other Charles County neighborhoods. In the last 12 months, 13 of the 26 sold properties were short sales. Of the 13 properties for sale now, however, only one is a short sale; the others are sales for homes to be built. Market prices range between $265,000 and $364,900. Since many people purchasing newly built homes in Kingsview opt for upgrades, the prices can go higher: Lally said her sale prices for the last 12 months averaged $408,000.
Residents pay monthly fees to the Kingsview Homeowners Association, which puts the money toward the pool, common areas and snow removal. The HOA also sponsors social events, from an Easter-egg hunt for the children to National Night Out, a summer get-together with local police designed for residents to get to know their neighbors and community. Those kind of events are important for Kingsview, said Allen, a member of the HOA board. Recalling last spring’s egg hunt, she said: “It gave families a chance to network and to know each other. . . . People spend so much time in their cars, they don’t want to have to take the children somewhere all the time.”
If you live in Kingsview, getting a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread takes some effort. The nearest shopping area is a little over two miles away in Bryans Road, and more amenities are located in Waldorf, about a 15-minute drive. Plans for a four-lane highway that might have reduced driving times across the county have been stalled because of environmental concerns.
Finding the best places to shop is one of many adjustments that Beckler, the former New Yorker, is making, noting he also has been trying to fill a much bigger house.
Beckler recalled the words of his grandfather, who told him that your “stuff” will grow to fill the available space in your home. “I’m beginning to see the truth in his words,” he said.
Jim Brocker is a freelance writer.
ZIP CODE: 20695
BOUNDARIES: While Kingsview has a White Plains Zip code, it is closer to the western Charles County community of Bryans Road. Kingsview is bordered by the Settle Woods and Eutaw Forest subdivisions to the north, the Highgrove and Foxhall subdivisions to the east, Billingsley Road to the south, and the Mattawoman Creek to the west.
SCHOOLS: J.C. Parks Elementary, Matthew Henson Middle, and North Point and Lackey high schools. The high school zones may change in a scheduled redistricting.
SALES: In the past 12 months, there have been 26 resales of homes in the neighborhood, according to Melinda Roark of Re/Max 100 Realty. Twenty-two were single-family homes, ranging in price from $190,000 to $484,692. Four were townhouses, ranging from $154,900 to $180,000. Of the sold properties, 13 were short sales, 11 were standard sales and two were bank-owned properties. Thirteen single-family homes are on the market, priced at $265,000 to $364,900. Only one is a resale, according to Roark; the others are to be built by K&P Builders. Nine homes are under contract: eight single-family homes and one townhouse. Six are short sales, two are standard sales, and one is a bank sale. Prices range from $160,000 to $359,000.
TRANSIT: Metro offers an express bus to the Southern Avenue rail station with stops in Bryans Road and Accokeek. Maryland Transit Administration commuter buses travel to downtown Washington from the Accokeek Park and Ride. Charles County’s VanGo service also includes a stop at Prince Edward Drive and Billingsley Road on its route from Indian Head to Waldorf.
WITHIN 20 MINUTES: Shopping centers in Bryans Road, Accokeek, Waldorf and La Plata; the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head; the College of Southern Maryland; Civista Medical Center.