It’s amazing what can happen when two proud moms serendipitously meet and start talking about their successful sons. One such conversation several years ago turned into a connection that sparked the creation of something special in Chelan.
The Lookout is a new lakeside village perched high on a bluff overlooking Lake Chelan, about a mile from downtown. And when you drive up the hill past green farmland, you realize it’s no ordinary vacation retreat.
The homes range in size and style from stately with double-decker decks and enough rooms to house a party of 14, to small, sweet cottage-style homes. The homes are on sidewalk-flanked streets with happy names like Jackrabbit Lane. Most have old-fashioned bikes on porches and colorful lounging chairs, barbecues, and even hammocks. There is a playground in the middle of it all, and an outdoor pool, too. And every night the community fireplace is ablaze with fire and conversation as folks roast marshmallows for gooey s’mores.
This sweet community feels almost too good to be true — and that’s because the team, developer Casey Roloff, general manager Guy Evans (their moms are the ones who made the introduction), and land owner/developer Ted Schroth are making it that way on purpose. It is all designed with intent and every detail considered — from the geometry of the porches in relation to the sidewalks, to the omission of front lawns.
Everything works in order to create harmony and safety and, most of all, to make this a “walkable” community. Elements of it are inspired by some of the ideas behind New Urbanism — and it is quite literally Roloff’s passion.
How to Build a Town from Scratch
Roloff started building a few homes in Lincoln City, Oregon, in 2000. Then he built a 12-acre walkable neighborhood nearby those in Oregon called Bella Beach. That success had him dreaming of building a bigger town — from scratch.
Seabrook, an award-winning, postcard-perfect beach town off Highway 109 near Pacific Beach was it, and it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. He picked the area because Washington lacked a walkable, compact beach town. And that had people driving to Cannon Beach, Gearhart, and Manzanita in Oregon.
“We knew that if we built Seabrook we would transform the thoughts of anyone who had dismissed the Washington coast,” Roloff said. During the past eight years, Seabrook has become one of the fastest-growing vacation destinations in the Northwest, with annual growth averaging 30 percent.
Just a decade old, Seabrook has grown from a few beautiful homes and cottages to a full-fledged town. It now boasts its own town hall, a retail district with a pottery-painting shop, dog boutique, corner market, restaurant and bike-repair shop, community garden, playground, and more. Sunset magazine, Coastal Living magazine, and others have recognized it.
Seabrook has plans for 1,000 homes and 300 are already built. Ten new businesses are there. There’s room to expand undeveloped property around it.
And after Evans’ mom found Seabrook by accident and met Roloff’s mom, who had been working in the Seabrook office that day, the seed for The Lookout was sown.
The inspiration behind both Seabrook and The Lookout, and the increased popularity of New Urbanism in many corners of the world, can be traced back to Seaside, Florida — the perfect town that was the backdrop in The Truman Show.
“We learned about a place called Seaside, Florida, where they built a new town from scratch using the same design principles we used before cars started shaping our communities and landscapes,” Roloff said. Roloff was just 29 years old when his own adventure started. He was armed with a business degree from the University of Puget Sound, a painting business, real estate license, and a lot of gumption.
Roloff has never looked back, unless you count looking back on history in order to plan future developments, based on old-fashioned principles that worked back when you knew all your neighbors and sent the kids next door to borrow a cup of flour.
It’s a Family Affair
That’s the kind of place Evans, a fifth-generation Chelan resident, wanted to help create in his hometown, too. He is the general manager at The Lookout, overseeing sales, rentals, and home builds. He also lives at The Lookout and has a young daughter who often rides her bike through the neighborhood and swings on the monkey bars.
“I care deeply about Lake Chelan, its evolution, and its future,” said Evans, who was hired as the first employee in 2013. “It has been a rewarding process, to say the least. I am excited by the creation of well-designed space and how that informs and influences our relationships.
“My vision for The Lookout is that as a neighborhood it might serve as a model for other areas of Lake Chelan and North Central Washington.”
Schroth acquired the former Granite Ridge property, where The Lookout is being built, in 2011. Before the recession, other developers had planned the 63-acre lakefront property as a gated community.
Schroth worked as a Seattle-area attorney for many years but always had a love for real estate. “Real estate was always in my blood,” he said. “Even when I worked at a downtown firm, my passion was coming home, putting on a tool belt, and fixing up old houses for resale.” He’s since jumped into real estate full-time and owns GTS Development. His company has completed several projects, from small condominiums to a $45.5 million mixed-use project in Seattle called Trace Lofts.
For Schroth as well as his partners, The Lookout is special and truly a family affair. Schroth’s wife Tricia assists owners with design choices, and his kids, Sophie, 15, and Luke, 13, love visiting. Sophie writes a blog for kids on the company website and has helped name some of the whimsical streets. Luke is working on creating bike trails, and both kids hope to work there during summers in high school and college.
Before the three men began building The Lookout, they studied the area and drew inspiration from historic neighboring towns like Cashmere and Waterville and from old Chelan. Those regional architectural details are reflected in a charming way on the homes throughout The Lookout and include rustic elements such as clapboard siding and exposed wood beams.
They also studied the land to make sure every home was placed in a way to maximize beauty and function. “(We took) the most spectacular parts of the property, making them public amenities instead of private lots,” Roloff said.
When The Lookout is complete, there will be about 300 homes. The process is expected to take about 10 years if it develops at the same pace as Seabrook. That timeline lets them do it “right,” Evans said.
Roloff believes more developers should build this way.
“Walkable communities are better for our health and build strong communities, whether on vacation or in a full-time residence,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that the most desirable neighborhoods in Seattle are the most walkable neighborhoods.”
Evans, whose family has made its mark on Chelan for those five generations, holds his involvement in The Lookout close to his heart. He glances at the photo of his little girl and then looks out the window to a development that is literally rising before his eyes. “Good planning leaves a lasting legacy.”
Get Out and Play
Sip Chelan Wine
They say the glacially carved soil of the Chelan Valley gives its grapes a distinct character, and the long sunny days help, too. Many of the wineries are family-friendly and serve food and host events. Learn more and get a map.
The star of Chelan is no doubt the lake, but the surrounding areas are beautiful and worth exploring. In fact, there are 14 major trailheads and more than 250 miles of summer trails that are maintained. In winter, the Chelan area offers plenty of cross-country skiing. One of the most popular draws is the Echo Ridge Trail system, which has about 25 miles of trails – all great for skiing, hiking, and mountain bike riding. There are several easy trails that are family-friendly, and more challenging hikes, too.
Take a Walk
If you are there with young kids, make sure to grab some popcorn at Bear Foods and then take a leisurely stroll in downtown Chelan along the mile-long Riverwalk Park Loop Trail. It is paved and loops between the two bridges along the Chelan River.
Ride a Bike
You can pedal around town if youíd like, or rent a bike at Chelan Electric Bikes and have the bike do the pedaling for you. Guided tours are available.
Day Trip to Stehekin
If you visit Chelan, you should carve out a day to visit Stehekin, located in the remote upper reaches of the lake and accessible only by boat or floatplane. The people who live there must rely on boats and barges to bring them things, even most groceries. The Lady of the Lake ferry service takes folks from Chelan to this remote area. If you go, make sure to bring a camera, be ready to take a hike or bike ride, and donít leave without some baked goodness from the Stehekin Pastry Co.
Delicious Chelan Bites
Chelan may be a great place to barbecueand picnic, but when you visit, donít miss these offerings.
Local Myth Pizza
Watch them toss dough in the air, smear it with fresh ingredients, top it with mounds of gooey cheese, and stick it into the wood-fire oven. You know this pizza is good as soon as you park the car, because the smell from the tiny restaurant lures you in. They have bins of toys for the kids (Mr. Potato Head is always a hit) and will let little ones play with soft dough at the table upon request. Try the Creamy Chicken pizza. The creamy leek sauce married with prosciutto, chicken, rosemary, and those tangy sun-dried tomato bits is enough to make you want to go back to Chelan just to get more of this pizza. It’s drizzled on top with sesame oil sauce. This is perfectly different pizza.
Bear Foods Natural Market & Café Creperie
Get all your organic, gluten-free, and specialty food, wine, and beer here, and bring it back for your feast at The Lookout. Or head to the attached café and treat yourself to a sweet or savory crepe, stuffed with deliciousness. And on your way out, get a big bag (not the small bag) of fresh popped corn, and go crazy with the toppings – oils, spices, and simply yum.
This is a real working berry farm in Manson – there’s a farm stand, or you can pick your own berries. But what you canít miss is breakfast at the down-home country restaurant. Order the biscuits and gravy or a stack of pancakes with fruity syrups. The Best Eggs Benedict Known to Mankind also is on the menu. You decide.
When the mood for chips, salsa, and most of all margaritas hits, locals head to Marcelaís in downtown Chelan. If you like things really hot, try anything infused with the specialty habanero sauce.
LakeView Drive In
Summer officially starts when this favorite burger-and-shake joint opens. You can order from your car, but it is much better to park and walk up to the window. Then you can eat your hot crinkle-cut fries at an old-fashioned picnic table.
Owning and Renting at The Lookout
- Home prices start in the low $400s. A home recently sold for $1.15 million.
- All homes are eligible to join The Lookout cottage-rental program.
- Rentals began in 2014. Roughly two-thirds of the homes are in the program.
- It takes 6-8 months to build a home from time of purchase commitment.
- The community marina features 70 berths.
- One outdoor pool is open and three additional pools are planned.
- The cottage-rental program takes care of all aspects of renting – marketing, reservations, housekeeping – for its owners.
- HOA dues are $150 per month.
The 425 Resort Home of the Year
The 425 Resort Home of the Year is nearly complete at The Lookout and will be open to the public for tours this summer! The farmhouse design has a more modern flair than the homes already in the resort destination. The L-shape design of the house was inspired by the wedge-shaped lot to maximize the view. The house will set the tone for more homes to come on this street.
Win a 2-Night Stay! Learn more about the 425 Resort Home of the Year and sign up to win a free stay.
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