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Kenmore, WA  98028
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The Kenmore shoreline and north remained heavily forested during the development of neighboring Bothell and Woodinville, both of which had settlements as early as 1870.  John McMasters entered the Kenmore scene in 1901 and operated a cedar shake mill on the Lake Washington shore.

When the Red Brick Road opened in 1913 and connected Kenmore to Seattle, travel to the little town increased and new businesses arose to accommodate motorists and weekend revelers.  The area lived up to its reputation as a rough and tumble place especially at the saloons where loggers were known to show their bare knuckle prowess.

The school kids demonstrated their own level of toughness, too.  Everyday for years they were picked up in a milk truck, seated on portable benches, and taken to school.  History doesn’t record if they had to walk home five miles uphill in the dark if a snow storm came in during the day, but one can easily imagine children of pioneers taking everything in stride without blinking.  They were a tough and determined generation.

1920 heralded the beginning of Prohibition, and just as they say about real estate today---location, location, location.  It seems Kenmore was just far enough away (Seattle city limits were at 55th) not to interest the revenuers, yet close enough for Jazz Age folks to reach with reasonable effort.  The secret was they knew it would be well worth the drive to have a drink or two in Kenmore.  Who knows, finding spirits in Kenmore may even have helped membership at the early Inglewood Country Club that opened in 1921.

Speakeasies abounded with the Blind Pig being one of the most notable.  Since the establishment was only reachable by water, the Feds could be seen coming and evidence poured into the lake if necessary; only the fish were the wiser.  A little known piece of trivia included by my personal, on-site observation, is that the Thomsen House from 1927 on Simonds Road and now a King County landmark, actually has a secret room in the basement area for entertaining a few privileged bourbonites.

After the Korean Conflict, housing tracts began to take shape in Kenmore, and Expertise, shopping and light industry followed.  During the Cold War years and until 1974, Kenmore was home to Nike missile batteries prepared to defend Seattle.  Kenmore Air Harbor opened, and is now the largest seaplane only airport in the country.  We may not have steamboats on all the waters anymore, but seaplanes can go many more places in the Great Northwest than steamers ever could.

While Kenmore has long had committed and visionary civic leaders, who conceived and developed the City’s distinctive flag, King County controlled Kenmore land use policies for virtually the first 100 years of its existence.  Current city planners have an unusual and challenging task ahead as they exercise local control to reshape the City functionally and aesthetically.

Today, Kenmore City Manager, Rob Karlinsey, is successfully turning the good ship Kenmore from its pre-incorporation, free spirited past into the City’s thoughtfully planned vision of a stunning, Kenmore by the Lake.  Compared to other 1880’s developing towns along Squak Slough, Kenmore slept through the party, held in check by land owning investors who did not seek to clear the land for settlement until long after other towns had a considerable head start on their own maturity process.

Kenmore’s time in the sun is here now; infrastructure is being upgraded, private developers are working closely with the City to plan inviting, shopper and pedestrian friendly retail centers, and highly regarded builders are competing to design and build city core living communities.  Many believe Kenmore’s strategic location at the top of Lake Washington is becoming more desirable than ever, since commuters can easily go east to I-405, or conveniently travel west into Seattle.

The City has also had a long-standing vision of developing public access to Lake Washington on existing City property, and is actively exploring optimum uses for the prime waterfront at Lakepointe, at the mouth of the Sammamish River.  The possibility of a landmark, waterfront hotel is one of several options under consideration for The Pointe.

Kenmore may best be described as a wonderful place to call home, yet a promising work in progress.  Furthermore in 2009, Seattle Magazine bestowed on Kenmore the honor of being named the Seattle area’s most livable community.  The 2011 population of 20, 870 certainly thinks so, and odds are you will, too.

From the Office of the City Manager

Trey ---

Thank you for your very well written description and history of Kenmore---I learned a few things!  I like how you described Kenmore as a “promising work in progress”.  Here are some comments from the City Manager’s Office, taken from my budget letter to the City Council:

It is Kenmore’s time.  The alignment and timing of recent regional developments, combined with our strategic location and fundamental assets, position our City to be a destination unto itself and an economic hub for North King County and the Eastside.  How we market ourselves and tell our story, what economic development programs we put in place, how we run our organization, and what infrastructure goes in are all vital to capturing this great opportunity to shine as a prosperous destination for living, working and recreating.

We will continue to use Kenmore’s Economic Development Strategy as an excellent guide and road map.  The four goals of this Strategy are:

  • Promote Kenmore’s Image
  • Support Existing Businesses and Expand Employment
  • Create a Multi-Use, Vibrant, and Walkable Downtown
  • Advance the Community’s Connection to the Waterfront

More than anything, the City can advance Economic Development simply by doing what we do best, which is:

  • Building public infrastructure (roads, parks and utilities);
  • Providing high quality basic municipal Expertise (public safety, planning & permitting, parks, road maintenance, etc.);
  • Keeping the City’s financial house in order.

I believe the City has been excelling in each of these three areas, and the recently adopted 2013-2014 budget continues to keep these fundamental City Expertise funded appropriately and without reduction.

That said, there are additional, significant economic development opportunities and tools we can include in our overall strategy.  While most everything we do can arguably falls under the category of economic development, we are proposing some exciting new endeavors as well as continuing and expanding upon current efforts.

The Waterfront

As described in Goal IV of Kenmore’s Economic Development Strategy, a key component of a prosperous Kenmore is how we turn toward the Lake and leverage this powerful asset.  Our waterfront on beautiful Lake Washington is a precious resource that few cities have.  Kenmore can become a waterfront destination in its own right; not just a place to launch or store your boat---a place where boaters and visitors intentionally go to tour and have fun.  And a well-planned and functioning waterfront can be a reason to attract workers---businesses can be in proximity to the water where professionals will want to spend their careers.

We already have some of the key pieces in place to help make this happen, including many feet of publicly-owned waterfront, the Sammamish River connection to Marymoor Park/Lake Sammamish; a navigation channel, a seaplane airport, a public pier (that needs to be lowered and retrofitted to be more user-friendly), a boat launch, two marinas, and a marine fuel dock.

But we need to make the connection between these assets and package them accordingly.  We also need to add more assets to our waterfront, including more City-owned publicly accessible shoreline and public amenities near the shoreline.  There is so much more we can do to turn our City toward the water, and we need to stay vigilant in searching for opportunities to do so.

This 2013-2014 budget allocates funding to three new projects that will bring us closer to our waterfront connection goal:

  • Hand-powered watercraft ramp and float on the east side of the 68th Avenue bridge on the south side of the Sammamish River.  
  • A new seasonal float and ramp to be attached to Log Boom Park Pier (which is currently too high off of the water) which will allow small boats access to the park.  This seasonal float will also be a launching point for a kayak/canoe/paddle board concession.
  • Widening of the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) boat launch and upgrading the parking lot and landscaping, as well as providing new restrooms with flush toilets and electrical power.  Construction on this project is expected to begin in late fall of 2013 and be complete in spring of 2014.  The City is a financial partner on this project.

In addition to the above three projects, this budget allocates waterfront planning resources in the form of the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS) Plan update.  Waterfront park and recreational opportunities will be a major part of the PROS Plan rewrite.  This budget also allocates significant staff resources to the Regional Business Zone project, which will also play a significant role in how we improve our waterfront assets and opportunities.  Both the PROS Plan update and the Regional Business Zone project are discussed later in this letter.


Speaking of our waterfront, the LakePoint property should be the largest part of our waterfront connection strategy and is arguably the last undeveloped site of its size and kind on Lake Washington.  Now is the time to be working quickly and assertively to help get this property ready for quality development.  We cannot wait for the economy to turn around and then start talking about how to get the project moving.  The completion of the SR520 Bridge Project is a short 2-3 years away, and we should work with the owner now to get something going on that site.

We also believe that a publicly accessible waterfront on the LakePointe property needs to be part of the project.  A publicly-owned, hand-powered watercraft center next to a City park on the site is an example of what could happen there.  But nothing comes for free, and the City would need to make an investment and provide incentives to both realize a quality private development and produce public waterfront access at LakePointe.

I have assembled an internal LakePointe Team to formulate a strategy for realizing a developed LakePointe.  This strategy will include one major goal:  Major construction phases of LakePointe completed or well underway in ten years or less---by 2023.

Kenmore Village

Now is an exciting time for Kenmore Village and our downtown.  After the City hit the “reset button” on the Kenmore Village property near the beginning of 2012, I was very pleased with and energized by the public process in helping us get ready to take the property to market.  Affirming the original goals for the property; developing a Position Statement; determining specific actions to complete prior to taking the property to market; seeking out community input and ideas; and getting feedback from the business community proved very valuable throughout this process.

At the time of this writing (April 2013), we have received strong interest in the property after listing it in late 2012.  Sixteen offers came in on the Kenmore Village properties, all of which were backed by quality, local investors.  As we select the buyers for the upper and lower parcels, we are confident that Kenmore Village will achieve its potential as a catalyst for Downtown Kenmore.  Ensuring a great public space in the form of a town green or town square is also important in ensuring a high quality, catalytic Kenmore Village project.

This is Kenmore’s time---this is the place of opportunity where there is so much potential for new investment and new economic life.  I am excited to be here and be a part of Kenmore’s exciting and promising future.

Rob Karlinsey
City Manager | City of Kenmore, WA
18120 68th Ave NE | Kenmore, WA 98028
Tel: 425.398.8900 | Fax: 425-481-3236 |

Useful Links and Local Features

City of Kenmore

History of Kenmore

Thinking of Moving Here?

Kenmore Heritage Society

A Quick Glimpse of Kenmore, Washington

Kenmore – A Wonderful Place to Call Home

Kenmore Air Tour

Kenmore Air

Kenmore Air “Flightseeing” Seaplane Spot

Bodacious Band, Anthony on Fiddle – T’s Honky Tonk Country Bar

Bullet Creek Band, “Proud to Be an American” – T’s Honky Tonk

History of Kenmore and Its Flag

July 4th Celebration - 2011

Heron Rookery in Kenmore

Great Blue Heron Working On Nest

Log Boom Park

Kenmore Junior High “Rules and Tips”

Ducks at Log Boom Park

Fall Leaves Turning Color

Bastyr University

Inglewood Golf Club

Skandia Midsommarfest at St. Edward Park

St. Edward Park Tour

Hiking St. Edward

Hiking at St. Edward with Erin

Know What’s Below, Call Before You Dig

Pest Extermination Expertise for Kenmore - Trey Shelton

Bee, Wasp and Yellow Jacket Nest Removal for Kenmore - Trey Shelton

Beaver, Otter, Mt. Beaver and Raccoon Trapping for Kenmore - Trey Shelton

Tree Removal, Topping and Thinning - Mike Green

Real Estate Expertise – John L. Scott

Real Estate Expertise – Gary Showalter

Real Estate Expertise – Debbie Walter

Real Estate Expertise – Cori Whitaker

Real Estate Expertise – Roger Kinnaman

Real Estate Expertise – Joni Kerley

Real Estate Expertise – Gvara Kirschner

Real Estate Expertise – OJ Marston

Real Estate Expertise – Michael West and Leilani McCormick

Air Duct Cleaning

Roofing Expertise

Roof Repair Expertise - Dan Everts

Gutter Expertise

Drainage and Structural Expertise

Home Inspections – Mark Daughtry

Precision Turf Equipment – Dan Robinson

Handicraftsman Expertise – Roger McColley

Professional Painting Expertise - Matt Elam and PJ Clarke

Irrigation, Lighting, Backflow Device Testing, Service & Repair - Dave Sheldon

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