Nestled against the northwest shores of Lake Washington, the city of Lake Forest Park is still what the original developers envisioned – a picturesque retreat for professionals, set apart from the hustle and bustle of commerce.
Lake Forest Park is quiet residential bedroom community, with many of the homes built from the 1950’s-70’s. However, home prices remain high, with a median selling price of $496,000.
Few homes are priced below $400,000, while several are offered at $1 million or more. Although the population dropped from 13,142 in 2000 to 12,598 in 2010, prices increased by 6% from 2014 to 2015, and Zillow predicts a rise of 5.2% over the coming year.
While some homes occupy waterfront on Lake Washington, the majority of homes in Lake Forest Park are perched on a hill that overlooks Lake Washington, some with breathtaking views. Comprised almost entirely of single family homes, residences in Lake Forest Park are 84% owner-occupied. Rents, with a median asking rate of $1,127 go as high as $3,600 per month.
Interestingly, while Lake Forest Park residents are highly educated and enjoy a per capita income of $99,669, residents are not, on average, as affluent as those in nearby cities. This could be attributed to the fact that more than 15% of the population is past retirement age.
A bit of History
The first to reside in what is now Lake Forest Park were the loggers, who arrived there in the late 1800s to harvest the trees and provide lumber for construction in the growing city Seattle. It’s interesting to note then, that when Ole Hansen bought up the land, he chose not to remove the trees. He recognized its value as a residential community, made more beautiful and serene with trees to shade both homes and lanes.
Thus, when the community was founded in 1912, Ole Hanson’s original prospectus for lot sales declared: “…the strict fiat has gone forth that all the natural beauty must be preserved; that no tree must unwittingly be cut down; that the natural wild flowers must remain; that the streams, the springs, the lake front, the nodding willows, the stately cedar, the majestic fir, the quivering cypress and the homelike maple and all the flora and fauna with which Nature has blessed this lakeshore, must not be defiled by the hand of man.”
In keeping with this desire, the streets and lots were laid out with strict consideration for the trees and other natural landmarks. Today Lake Forest Park is still heavily forested, with roads that serpentine along hills and ridges.
Since the city abuts the Seattle city limits on the South, it might have been natural for it to be annexed and swallowed up by the larger city, but residents resisted. In large part to maintain its unique identity, the town of Lake forest Park officially incorporated on June 20, 1961, with a population of less than 5,000 residents.
Also in keeping with the original founder’s wishes, Lake Forest Park has resisted commercial sprawl. Less than 4% of the city’s 3.65 square miles is zoned commercial, and there are no industrial areas. The city’s
commercial core, built in 1964, keeps commerce isolated from the residential areas. Residents see this as a convenience. They can take care of all their in-town business and errands in one small 18 acre area.
The town stayed small until the 1990’s, when annexation increased the city’s borders and more than doubled the official population.
Although small, Lake Forest Park has several parks within its borders, including Horizon View Park, Pfingst Animal Acres Park, Eagle Scout Park, Blue Heron Park, Grace Cole Nature Park, and Lyon Creek Waterfront Park.
Lyon Creek Park was created on ¾ acres purchased by the city in 1998 to provide public access to Lake Washington. It had, for fifty years, belonged to Marcia and Robert Morris, who had both a home and a horse stable on the property. As part of the development, these structures were removed and hundreds of citizen volunteers joined in the effort to replant the area with 5,000 native shrubs and plants.
The Commercial Core in Lake Forest Park
Situated along Bothell Way, the Town Center mall offers all the everyday shopping and services the residents need, including the library. City Hall is right next door.
At The Town Center you can stop for coffee or enjoy a full meal; visit your dentist, doctor, or investment advisor; work out; purchase either new or consignment clothing; shop for gift items; do your banking; check out books from the library; buy groceries; and pick up fresh baked goods to take home for dinner.
Two of the most popular destinations down town are Third Place Books, and Third Place Commons, which are gathering places for the community as well as a book store. Offering free public WiFi and more than a thousand free public events each year, Third Place Commons includes a food court, a community room, and even a stage. Activities and learning opportunities abound for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens.
During the summer months, it even includes the popular Lake Forest Park Farmers Market, where residents can indulge their desire for fresh produce and crafts from the Northwest.
Aside from those positions offered in the 18 acre commercial core, there are no jobs in Lake Forest Park. Instead, residents commute to Seattle or other nearby cities. There’s talk of adding light rail service, but as of now, there are no plans in the immediate future.
Lake Forest Park is home to two elementary schools, Lake Forest Park Elementary School and Brookside Elementary School, both served by the Shoreline School District. High School students commute to Shorecrest High School in the adjoining city of Shoreline. There are no post-secondary schools in the city.
Things to do …
While the bulk of activities are indoors and centered in the Town Center Mall, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy close access to the Burke-Gilman Trail. This trail, jointly maintained by the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Parks and Recreation, is popular for walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters.
Is Lake Forest Park the right place for you?
If you think the serene bedroom community of Lake Forest Park sounds “just right” for you and yours, I’d be happy to show you the homes available there today. Just give me a call and tell me your home buying wants and needs, and I’ll start sorting the possibilities.
If you’d like a preview, just click here to do a search for homes in Lake Forest Park. (Remember to link to the search page!)