In the old days, Kent's East Hill residents enjoyed a rural feel in a sleepy suburb of Seattle and often worked at Boeing, according to longtime resident Jack Ottini.
But that isn't today's East Hill.
Industries and warehouses and other new businesses moved into Kent, the city's downtown is expanding and the East Hill neighborhood now includes a diverse range of residents and homes — even a few still under $200,000.
More than 50,000 of Kent's residents — the majority — live in the East Hill neighborhood, and it continues to attract more housing developments and residents.
Its boundaries depend somewhat on whom you ask. But the city of Kent generally considers East Hill to be east of 94th Avenue South and west of Soos Creek, from about Southeast 192nd Street to about Southeast 284th Street.
The neighborhood is mainly residential but it also has a stretch of businesses, which reflect the diversity of residents.
Along with Top Foods, Target and other common stores, East Hill includes an international grocery called Valley Harvest.
Large numbers of immigrants, including Ukrainians, Filipinos and Ethiopians, live in East Hill, according to Kent spokeswoman Sylvia McDaniel.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, nearly 17 percent of Kent residents were born outside the United States, and about 22 percent speak a language other than English at home.
Ottini has watched East Hill grow and new residents move in. Now retired, he has lived at the Meridian Valley Country Club since he built the house in 1976, but his golf-course neighborhood isn't homogenous.
"Not just high-end people live here," said Ottini, adding that neighbors include a range of incomes and races. But they all moved in "for the love of golf," said Ottini, who is president of the Meridian Valley Homeowners Association.
East Hill includes a range of homes from apartments to condos to affordable single-family homes to million-dollar lakefront estates.
Homebuyers can afford a bigger home and lot size than if they were buying a home closer to Seattle, said Ann Hilario of Prudential Northwest Realty in East Hill.
The median sales price for a single-family house in Kent during January was $310,000 and $156,000 for condos, she said.
Homebuyers still might be able to find a house for less than $200,000 in East Hill, though they might have to settle for a little house or one that needs some fixing up, she said.
The area continues to grow, and quite a few single-family-home developments are under construction, McDaniel said.
East Hill offers easy access to freeways and the opportunity to live and shop in the same community, said Hilario.
Ottini said one of the advantages to East Hill is a short trip to Seattle or Tacoma, depending on the traffic.
He recommends homebuyers give the area a careful look.
"Don't just look at a map and say it is in the wrong place."
Schools: East Hill is served by the Kent School District, the fourth-largest school district in the state.
Housing: Of 20,127 total housing units, 14,901 or 74 percent, are owner-occupied; 4,238, or 21.1 percent, are renter-occupied; and 988, or 4.9 percent, are vacant.
Nearby medical facilities:
• Valley Medical Center, 400 S. 43rd St., Renton
• Auburn Regional Medical Center, 202 N. Division St.
• Great Wall shopping mall, 18230 E. Valley Highway, Kent
• Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter, 633 Southcenter Mall, Tukwila
• SuperMall, 1101 SuperMall Way, Auburn
City of Kent Parks
• East Hill Park, 10920 S.E. 248th St.
• East Hill Skate Park, 11525 S.E. 240th St.
• Lake Meridian Park, 14800 S.E. 272nd St.
• Wilson Playfields, 13028 S.E. 251st St.
King County Parks
• North Meridian Park, Southeast 231st Street and 120th Avenue Southeast
Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf