Chelan Hills is a neighborhood that was originally built in 3 phases, known as Riviera Chelan Division, Chelan Hills 2 Division and Chelan Hills 3 Division. It is situated between Lake Chelan Shores Condos and Crystal View Estates Division along the North Shore hills of Lake Chelan.
Chelan Hills is the neighborhood that started it all! It was the most ambitious of the original projects on Lake Chelan that promoted vacation homes in the Seattle area. It was conceived and marketed before Wapato Point or Lake Chelan Shores.
It started with a group called Riviera Chelan in the 1964 - 1965 time frame. That group of investors included Jerry Scofield who is associated with Bear Mountain Ranch on the south shore.
After getting started with first division called Riviera Chelan of Chelan Hills and putting in the original dirt road in that area, the Riviera Chelan group ended up selling to Chelan Associates which was a development group who had built out recreation subdivisions on Lake Cushman and Lake Tapps both in Western Washington. Eventually that part of the group that was Lake Tapps Development took over the Chelan Hills project.
Chelan Hills, when it was first conceived, was outside of the City of Chelan boundary and had no water available. So they accomplished a “ribbon annexation” in which a 100′ wide strip of land from the city limit, near Darnell’s at the time, was annexed into the city all the way out to Chelan Hills. That allowed water to be run out to their 550 acre subdivision to have the infrastructure it needed to get started.
Riviera Chelan had sold, or taken deposits on, about 30 lots in that first division. The Chelan Associates group approached the original purchasers and informed them that they were going to get the water installed and asked them to either get current on their payments or give their lots back. 15 or 20 decided to stay with the program. The program in those days was the sale of lots for somewhere in the $1,150 to $1,350 price range. That usually meant $200 down and payments of around $25 per month on a ten year contract.
This was also the time frame when the last person leaving Seattle was supposed to “turn out the lights” when they left town! The economy was reeling and Boeing and Seattle were having a particularly rough go.
Tim Flood, an associate Broker at Windermere in Chelan, was one of the original sales folks involved with Chelan Associates and Lake Tapps Development.
A story was told of being at the Seattle Home Show with a 14′ long model of Lake Chelan under a clear cover. At that time it was estimated that only 3 in 10 people at the show had ever heard of Lake Chelan. But after advertising in newspapers, radio and at home shows all over Washington, Lake Chelan began to be better known. There were times when newspaper ads trying to sell vacation properties were right next to headlines telling people to stay away from Lake Chelan because of forest fire danger! The economy and a few summers with bad forest fires added to the challenge of selling property!
At that time the roads in Chelan Hills were a type of chip seal that did not hold up well, but, there really wasn’t much traffic since the area hadn’t really taken off with people building homes until later.
As time passed, it was estimated that 8 of 10 folks in Seattle had now heard of Lake Chelan and lots began to sell in the $4000 plus range. In the late 70′s and early 80′s the area became popular as more and more homes were built. The need for services also increased as folks decided to live here full time.
What is now Lake Chelan Shores was property owned by these same developers. When they purchased the property it was common to fill in property that was flooded by the dam and utilize that regained waterfront. However, in 1971 a Supreme Court decision on a property near the “Three Fingers” (located on the south shore across the lake from Chelan Hills) put an end to that practice of gaining more shoreline by backfilling. Had it not, the developers planned to use the hill where The Highlands division of Chelan Hills is now to fill in 1200 feet or so of shoreline between the Lake Chelan Shores Condos and what is now Crystal View Estates. With backfilling the shoreline no longer permissible and no more need for the gravel and fill from that hill, the Highlands area was divided into 5 acre lots and is now part of the Chelan Hills development.
In 1978 or 1979 the Lake Tapps Development group did start work on Lake Chelan Shores.
Today, Chelan Hills is revered for its curving streets through the hills and its active and well maintained community amenities. It has two association pools (one on the lake and the other up in Division 2), two tennis courts down at the Main Lake Park and the association beach (Willows Park) up lake from Lake Chelan Shores to accommodate boat and Jet Ski activities.
Chelan Hills has a mix of housing from original lake cabins, many with additions added through the years, to newer custom homes. Today it has a higher percentage of year round residents, paved streets and sewer available in some areas.
The area that originally had locals in the 60’s and 70’s wondering “who would ever live out on that sage brush hill” has blossomed into a swan that is among Lake Chelan’s most desirable neighborhoods to this day.