Storybook Eichlers: Primewood - Sunnyvale - Page 3

Tight-knit families and a picturesque air bring new life to Sunnyvale's 35-home Primewood development

dad and son playing on street

A series of gates connect the backyards of several homes on Lennox Court, adding to the communal spirit. "It's a gated community," Lisa Moore jokes.

The young families share a particularly strong bond. They get together for dinners, carpool together, mind each others' kids and cats, drive each other to the emergency room as needed, and close off the court for street parties.

Barbara Papamarcos has even gotten her friends to join her for pushups and fast sprints. "It's one of the ways we stay connected," she says, adding, "Also what unifies us is, none of us have family nearby."

They are also unified by a love for the architecture. Christine and John, who fell in love with Eichlers after spotting some in Mountain View, were determined to live in Primewood. "We committed ourselves to moving into this neighborhood no matter how long it took," John says.

a primewood house

Christine mounted a campaign that included getting the names of everyone in the neighborhood, and contacting several through six-degrees-of-separation contacts. It paid off when she and John were able to buy a home before it was listed on the market.

Life hasn't always been easy in Primewood. Barbara's mother came down with cancer a few years ago and moved in, immediately becoming a beloved presence on the court, teaching the children how to make pancakes. "Everyone called her Grandma Gloria," Marie says.

Then, on a trip to Disneyland, Christine and John's son Ben, who was six, fell ill, slurring his speech and suffering headaches. He was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma. The neighborhood now had two cancer patients.

ben and his dad

"People in the neighborhood did anything they could do," Christine says. Neighbors watched over John and Christine's younger son, Jacob. They lent spare bedrooms to John's mother, who came for an extended stay. "Every single night somebody was taking care of food," Keith says, crediting both neighbors and other friends of the Diffenderfers.

Keith, a chief technology officer for a high-tech firm, spent time building a bicycle with young Ben, even skipping work to do so.

Sometimes, when tragedy hits, people step back, not knowing what to say or do. The opposite occurred in Primewood. Friendships deepened. "We began to walk together," Keith says. "The morning walks started when there was lots of stress, and they continued after that more as a way to relax."

"It is a unifying factor when there is a tragedy in a neighborhood," says Barbara, whose mother died shortly before the birth of her son Kevin.

"It was a moment of crisis that brought a lot of us together," Keith says.

neighbors gather for the bash

In June 2005, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and neighbor's and friends, Ben got his wish. It was a remarkably unselfish wish, one that was more about giving than receiving.

It was 'Ben's Big Bash,' a party on the court that included costumed children doing a convincing chicken dance, face-painting, chalk drawing, a contingent of 'Star Wars' warriors, a dunk tank, and Ben's release of 100 butterflies. Hundreds of people attended.

Ben, who was weak and very ill, was able to appreciate the event—but it was his friends and family who most enjoyed the party. 'Ben's Big Bash' was his gift to the neighborhood.

party scene baloons and neighbors

• The 35 Eichler homes that make up Primewood can be found near the intersection of South Mary Avenue and West Fremont Avenue, along Allison Avenue, Lennox Way, and Beaverton, Blanchard, and Lennox courts.

Photos: David Toerge, Dave Weinstein, Lisa Moore; and courtesy the Diffenderfer-Falsetti family

• Thanks to realtor Nil Erdal of Coldwell Banker, who specializes in Southbay Eichlers, for introducing us to Primewood.

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