Melissa Smith started her home-buying journey a few years ago with mixed feelings.

Smith, who works for the U.S. Department of Labor, said she was excited about purchasing her first home but also anxious about finding a neighborhood that would be “a perfect fit,” considering that she was about to make the most expensive purchase of her life so far.

A random drive through Nauck in Arlington County, however, left her feeling as though she’d stumbled on “an amazing discovery.”

“To find a house in this neighborhood that was in my price range was really a fantastic find,” said Smith, 36, who settled on a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,200-square-foot duplex on South Four Mile Run Drive. “It’s an easy commute into the city, and the neighborhood is really friendly and welcoming.”

Karisue Wyson, an agent with McEnearney Associates, said affordability is a major selling point in Nauck, where about half of current listings are priced under $500,000.

“If you’re thinking about moving to Arlington, you’re searching for affordability,” Wyson said. “There are very few communities in the area where you can buy a single-family home for under $500,000, let alone for $400,000.”

Roberta Flack lived there:
Wyson said that Nauck’s location — close to Interstate 395, South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike — allow residents easy access to downtown. Nauck is also walking distance to Shirlington, which is “exploding with lots of restaurants” and is home to a remodeled movie theater, renovated library and a 24-hour supermarket, Wyson added.

While Nauck is experiencing rising housing prices seen across Northern Virginia, it is still known as a neighborhood where affordable homes in the $250,000 range can still be found. (Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post)

Nauck’s affordability might lure potential buyers to tour the neighborhood, but the community’s rich history is what seals the deal, said Alford O. Taylor Jr., who’s lived in Nauck since 1934.

Home to Arlington’s oldest African American community, Nauck has had some prominent black residents, including R&B singer Roberta Flack and Charles I. Bryant and Robert Bryant, brothers who built one of the country’s oldest African American architecture firms, said Taylor, a retired dean at the University of the District of Columbia who recently published a book on the neighborhood’s history.

“The residents moving to Nauck are really interested in learning about the area they’re moving into,” said Taylor, who lives on South Lowell Street.

In recent years, Nauck has experienced a demographic shift that saw its African American population decline from a high of around 90 percent to around 35 percent today, said Portia Clark, president of the Nauck Civic Association.

And while Nauck is still affordable compared with nearby Northern Virginia communities, demand for housing means that “affordability is skyrocketing,” Clark said.

“Certainly some of our children can’t afford to buy here, and many of them are moving to areas in Maryland that are more affordable,” said Clark, 57, who lives in a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house on Kenmore Street.

Smith, who moved to Nauck in December 2014, counts herself among the newcomers interested in learning about their “eclectic” neighborhood and eventually adding to the community’s rich history.

“I keep peeling back the onion on this neighborhood and I’m always pleasantly surprised,” she said. “This neighborhood is full of residents with such pride in Nauck’s history, and they’ve been very welcoming to new residents who’d like to share in that tradition.”

Living there:
Nauck is bordered by 16th Road South to the north, Army Navy Country Club to the east, Four Mile Run Drive to the south and Walter Reed Drive to the west.

In the past 12 months, 64 properties have sold there, with prices ranging from $256,000 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom townhouse to $830,000 for a three-bedroom, four-bathroom Craftsman, said Wyson, the McEnearney agent.

Ray Kwan, 11, middle, and Sirak Weldabzghi, 12, right, play basketball with friends at the Drew Recreation Center in Nauck. (Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post)

Eleven houses are for sale and four are under contract in Nauck, with prices ranging from $155,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium to $924,900 for a four-bedroom, four-bath Colonial, she said.

Drew Model and Hoffman-Boston elementary, Gunston Middle, and Wakefield High.

Arlington Transit and Metro buses serve Nauck. Although no Metrorail stations are in convenient walking distance, several are less than 15 minutes away by car. There are two Capital Bikeshare docks.

Since January, there have been seven aggravated assaults, four robberies, two burglaries and two reports of stolen vehicles in Nauck, according to Arlington County police.