Then and now, Kenmore's location is powerful draw

The city of Kenmore has come a long way since its wild adolescence.

Back in the Roaring '20s, Kenmore's remoteness bred a bustling, albeit illegal, alcohol industry.

During Prohibition, The Blind Pig, one of the city's notoriously raucous saloons, was accessible only by boat.

As a result, the north end of Lake Washington became both a parking lot and an evidence-disposal site, with barrels of booze and flannel-clad lumberjacks presumably plunging into the icy water at the sight of any suspiciously official-looking vessel.

Today, in a development that may or may not have upset visitors at the long-defunct Pig, Kenmore is all about ease of access, and is anything but remote or dodgy.

Located on the north shore of Lake Washington between Bothell and Lake Forest Park, the city is in the midst of the Highway 522 Corridor Improvement Project, which is expected to ease congestion and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in the area.

The nearly $30 million project, along with a major redevelopment of the downtown area, are at the core of what promises to be a new and improved Kenmore.

"Both of these projects have a lot of momentum behind them," said Rob English, Kenmore's city engineer.

"Most of the funding is in place and the city is excited to keep things moving forward."

Kenmore wasn't officially incorporated until 1998, making it one of the youngest cities in King County.

Still, with a population approaching 20,000 and the power of proximity at its disposal, the area is as formidable as any when it comes to competition for real estate.

"We're seeing a real shortage of inventory in Kenmore," said Kathy Brown of Windermere Real Estate in Woodinville.

"With so few listings, there's a lot of pressure on buyers. In addition to receiving multiple offers, many properties are selling for 2 or 3 percent more than the asking price."

Of the 55 units currently available in Kenmore, the average four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home is selling for $515,000 according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks home-sale statistics in several Washington counties. Of those listings, 18 are new properties.

"A lot of the available properties in Kenmore are older," Brown said. "Builders are looking to tear those down and build new homes."

Kenmore is in the Northshore School District, which graduated 77 percent of its students on time during 2003-04, according to state figures.

By comparison, nearby Everett and Edmonds school districts graduated 58 and 63 percent respectively during the same period.

Bastyr University, a school of naturopathic medicine, also is in Kenmore.

The city also boasts a large seaplane facility — Kenmore Air Harbor — and several waterfront parks, including St. Edward State Park, home of the St. Edward Seminary and 3,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline.

The Burke-Gilman Trail, winding its way through Kenmore along the Sammamish River, is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists.

More than anything, though, it is the lake that is part of Kenmore's history.

From a hooch receptacle to a source of civic pride, it has long been the anchoring theme of the city's identity, so much so that Kenmore is commonly referred to as "Kenmore by the Lake."

Population: 20,105

Schools: Kenmore is served by the Northshore School District and is also home to Bastyr University.

Housing: Of the 8,553 total housing units, 5,923, or 69.2 percent, are owner-occupied; 2,139, or 25 percent, are renter-occupied; and 491, or 5.8 percent, are vacant.

Nearby medical facilities: Evergreen Hospital Medical Center, Kirkland; Stevens Hospital, Edmonds; Providence Everett Medical Center, Everett

Shopping: Kenmore Village Shops, Northeast 181st Street; Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood.

Public facilities: St. Edward State Park — 14445 Juanita Drive N.E., a 316-acre day-use park with 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on Lake Washington. Once a Catholic seminary, the park's rich history is reflected in its grounds and architecture.

— Miyoko Wolf