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A LOOK BACK IN OUR REAL ESTATE HISTORY
Things were a lot simpler in the Lake Chelan Valley in the 1960’s. Homes were selling in the town of Chelan for around $12,000 to $15,000, lot prices at the new Lake Chelan Hills project started at $1,300 and you could pick up a nice waterfront lot for $25,000.
Early in the1970’s, a court case that had its beginnings on Lake Chelan resulted in a Supreme Court decision that had wide ranging effects not only here in Chelan but throughout the state and, eventually, throughout the country. This case evolved into what we know today as the Shorelines Management Act which severely limits the development and use of all waterfront property. The practical result of all of this was an immediate upsurge in the value of the buildable waterfront.
Spader Bay Resort was the first recreational condominium project on the lake but in the mid 1970’s the development of timeshare condominiums at Wapato Point, 8 miles uplake from Chelan on the north shore near the community of Manson, really signaled a new beginning in the popularity of Lake Chelan as a destination resort community. Lake Chelan Shores Resort, also on the north shore but closer to Chelan, and Peterson’s Waterfront Resort, right in the town of Chelan, were built shortly after the development at Wapato Point.
Although all three resorts sold Full Ownership Condominiums, it was the aggressive marketing for their Timeshare Condominiums that introduced tens of thousands of prospects to Lake Chelan. Thousands of these folks became owners and part time residents but many more searched out and found other properties along the shoreline or on the hills overlooking the lake. Many of the original timeshare owners have also since moved on to become year round owners of vacation and retirement properties throughout the Valley.
The real estate market in Lake Chelan , exclusive of its agricultural base, has always been tied most closely with the Puget Sound economy and while that area saw sustained growth during the 1990’s, so too, did Lake Chelan. As spectacular stories of new wealth were told in the region’s newspapers, Chelan saw some amazing stories of its own. Waterfront prices skyrocketed, lot prices of view property doubled and then doubled again. Even orchard prices hit their peak during that period, some selling for over $20,000 per acre. Older homes along the lake were purchased at full price, torn down and new homes built that dwarf their neighbors, changing forever the concept of buying the little cabin on the lake.
Changes in our region’s social and work structure evidences a new trend in property ownership in the Chelan valley. Heretofore, year round, vacation and retirement were the principal categories in property ownership. But now with variable work weeks, telecommuting possibilities and better transportation, a whole new category has surfaced, one that allows families to use their property for both business and pleasure. The concept of retirement ownership has also changed, the Lake Chelan property may become just part of an overall plan that might include maintaining several properties allowing owners to take advantage of each location at their prime time.
As we enter into this new century, the economic news is unsettled to say the least, but some things are certain, as the population of the state continues to grow, there are many who can’t wait to escape the confines of the big city, if not full time, then, at least, for that special vacation retreat, and Lake Chelan continues to offer a wide range of opportunities for all those special needs.
Quality of life is the term heard frequently as the motivating factor for families or businesses to relocate here.
The Lake Chelan Valley is known for its wonderful climate, breathtaking scenery and central location.
The largest of the three, Chelan is the only incorporated community in the northern part of Chelan County and is located along the southeast end of Lake Chelan. The city’s year round population runs around 3,500, but the area is popular with visitors and part time residents; these numbers swell during the summer months.
The second largest community, Manson, is an unincorporated and popular vacation community located on the north shore of Lake Chelan with an estimated population of 1,500. Surrounded by beautiful orchards and mountain views, Manson has a special quality to it that must be experienced to understand.
At the northernmost end of the lake is the rustic community of Stehekin. The population of Stehekin consists of approximately 72 year-round residents. Stehekin is nestled at the base of the North Cascade Mountains and boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.
The Lake Chelan Valley is served by one of the nation’s largest hydroelectric producers, the Chelan County PUD. The Public Utility District offers some of the most readily available and reliable power in the state. The PUD is working cooperatively with the Port of Chelan County to offer broadband fiber optics to the communities they serve.
Local law enforcement is provided within the Chelan City limits by the Chelan Police Department and Chelan County deputies server Manson and the other outlying areas. 911 emergency dispatch services are available throughout Chelan County.
The Valley boasts its own weekly newspaper and local radio station that keep residents entertained and up-to-date with the latest news.
Lake Chelan School District
The Lake Chelan School District has an approximate enrollment of 1,300 students. The school district offers quality education for Kindergarten through 12th, with an alternative school and special programs, including Holden Village.
Chelan Valley Independent School
The Chelan Valley Independ ent School teaches grades 1-6. The C.V.I.S. curriculum includes traditional subjects such as Mathematics, Social Studies, Language Arts, Science and Music. The small classroom sizes allow educators to interlink the subjects accordingly for each individual student. The school’s curriculum is built around a year-long theme study. Past themes have included the Ancients, Communities, Energy and Machines & Inventions.
Manson School Disctrict
The district has two schools, an elementary (K-6) and secondary (7-12) with an approximate enrollment of 680 students. The district offers programs that serve the entire family, extending schools into homes, and establishing positive community connections, demonstrating a strong commitment to children.
Wenatchee Valley College
The Chelan Center provides local access to college courses and programs via interactive television (WA K-20 network) and on-site classroom instruction. The Center is equipped with the latest educational technologies and offers a full range of student services.
Demographics & Statistics
Overall Valley population: Approx 7,000
Chelan (City Limits): 3,680
Manson: approx 1,300
Average Housing Cost
Average Price for a 2 bedroom/2 bath Rental
Average Family Income
98816 - $37,880
98831 - $42,249
Lake Chelan’s Global Position
47.84 degrees Longitude (North of Equator)
120.02 degrees Latitude (West of Prime Meridian)
Unemployment Rates in Chelan County
1. Chelan Fruit Cooperative
2. Campbell's Resort
3. Lake Chelan Community Hospital
4. Lake Chelan School District
5. Mill Bay Casino
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