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The Lookout looks back to the future

By on September 24, 2018 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments

Peaceful streetscapes evoke an earlier, simpler time but also feature firewise, energy-efficient materials and new standards for scale and density.

By Susan Lagsdin

Sometimes a house is more than just a home.

Chelan’s north shore development, The Lookout, also reminds us that a house can represent a philosophical construct, a sociological trend or an economic reality.

Guy Evans is extremely familiar with all of the above.

As a realtor with Coldwell Banker, fifth generation local, former small-scale farmer and The Lookout homeowner, he thinks deeply about his work.

He knows that the high-end housing project, one that wraps itself around and down a promontory between the Manson highway and the lake just northwest of downtown Chelan, is large and distinctive enough to raise tempers or at least create constant comment. And he’s very pleased to walk about it, and to talk about it.

The Lookout features tall, closely-spaced cottage-style homes with traditional dormers and gables, shingles or board and batten and shady front porches. It’s within the City of Chelan, and It’s not a gated community; a trail goes from Don Morris park all the way up the hill. Guy (granted, a marathon runner) calculates it’s a 20-minute walk into town, a 3-minute downhill bike.

Broad sidewalks and curvy streets slow the pace, garages are discreetly tucked away, tiny landscaped front yards are easy-care (the HOA does it all). Street-side shade trees are growing apace.

A park, playground, sports court, pool and pavilion are just a stroll away at the top of the knoll, and a private beach and 70-slip marina anchors the base.

Guy Evans, a homeowner and former sales rep for The Lookout, is proud that his own great-grandfather started growing fruit on this now-developed lakefront knoll in 1899.

Guy, The Lookout development team and builder Casey Roloff are proponents of New Urbanism, a reaction to the post-WWII car-centric housing boom that drew people to featureless tract homes and away from the core of many American cities.

Seaside, Florida was an early (1981) venture into a return to the friendly neighborhood, a walking-scale way of living in contained communities. More recent examples of the movement are McKenzie Towne, in Calgary, Alberta; The Issaquah Highlands, the Urban Canyon project in Seattle and Seabrook on Washington’s coast — the most direct inspiration for this one.

The Lookout started literally from the ground up in 2013 and is based on a different sense of scale than sprawling suburban developments, with a calculated range of private, semi-public and public experiences, and every home is part of the amalgam.

A walkabout yielded some revelations. “Look at that porch,” Guy indicated the home next to his. “First, the stairs leading to it raise it up and ‘honor the home.’ And yet there’s a perfect opportunity for interaction.”

Two layers establish privacy, he noted — a short hedge and an open railing — but the front porch itself was set back only about 10 feet, the length of an SUV. He went on with an example, “That means if you’re sitting outside you can easily make eye contact and say ‘Hey, good morning.’ But it’s also far enough that you can keep your head in your book and sip your coffee.”

The sidewalk circuit is extensive, with intriguing shortcuts. Next to one home’s porch, a steep graveled trail doglegged off the sidewalk. Terraced and stepped in parts, it meandered down past a few houses skirting private spaces, leaving just enough room for the chat or not-chat decision.

The trail arrived on another street, with, as Guy pointed out, classic “terminal views” (like European spires and belfries). He pointed out a flagpole, a deliberately tall home centered at the base of the street, even Chelan Butte visible at the top of the rise. He said, “We seem to crave directional signs, landmarks. While you’re walking here, you’ll always know where you are, but ideally at least every five minutes you’ll come across a completely new scene.”

It’s been over five years since excavators rumbled onto the former vineyard and early apple orchard to break ground for the first homes at the top — five years since the homeowners on the north shore realized their view of the tall hillside would now include streetscapes and rooftops.

A few homebuyers have chosen full-time living close to the downtown community; most value this style of cozy home as a holiday or weekend retreat.

Sound planning and architecture created an appealing neighborhood, but as with any development not tucked away in obscurity, the long-distance visuals were disconcerting at first.

Guy acknowledged that altering a familiar view is disruptive but cited last century’s changing vistas on both long sides of the lake as homes crept farther up both hillsides. (He also posited that Chelan’s first inhabitants must have disliked seeing Guy’s own great-grandfather jerking up sagebrush with his team of horses on that same hillside.)

The 2004 documentary Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture and the New American Farmer, which he made with local filmmaker Jamie Howell, was an early exploration of sustainability.

Guy observes today that in our region small-scale farming has become increasingly unable to support families, and recreation and tourism often take its place. The chance to responsibly handle that reality is what first drove Guy to partner with Lookout developers and designers.

The Lookout is still expanding to its fullest with a highway, Vin du Lac vineyard and a marina on its margins. In the future, the plan is to include a range of more affordable homes, much needed in the region.

Amenities packages vary to suit each buyer of a newly-built home. The master bathroom pictured here features the best of tub and shower with, of course, yet another opportunity to view the lake.

Of the 90 higher-end cottages that have been completed, one third are now owned by full-time Chelan residents or people who use their second homes exclusively for their own family and friends. That leaves 60 available for nightly rentals, a burgeoning market in tourist-friendly Chelan.

As a lead sales person for The Lookout, Guy had a surprising but sensible response to the contentious vacation housing issue.

“Yes, I think nightly rentals are like a cancer — in established residential neighborhoods they keep growing, and pretty soon there’s no part of town that isn’t infected. So… why not put them together in one place? The housing needs of vacationers and people going to work every morning are different; the neighborhoods’ biorhythms are different.”

A drive up the winding road to the center of the residential area, and maybe a stroll on the sidewalks and a rest on a shady bench, will yield a clearer look at the kind of community The Lookout endeavors to create: a walkable, peaceful, self-contained but welcoming place to call home, even if it’s just for one luxurious weekend.

Wide-open views of Lake Chelan and all-over sun on the deck are what attract buyers to houses like this one at the very top of Lookout.

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