The historic Innis Arden neighborhood in Shoreline is known for its protected views, sense of community and link to the founder of Boeing.
At dusk, postcard-worthy sunset views of Puget Sound and snow-crested Olympic Mountains from Dr. Tracy Cameron’s Innis Arden home border on heavenly.
Graced by greenbelt reserves, a watershed park, private beach and a community clubhouse with outdoor tennis courts and a pool where generations of kids have learned to swim, the allure of this 534-home enclave is clear.
“It’s your own forest — a little wonderland,” says Cameron. “We first came house hunting here on a sunny day, and once we saw the view with the Olympic Mountains, we just knew this was it. It would take angels to come down from the sky and blow their trumpets to get me to move.”
And while she and her husband, Brian, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, others in this neighborhood in Shoreline near the northwest corner of King County are starting to think about it.
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Over the past few decades, few of the homes here changed hands. When they did, view homes with few or any needed updates were often snatched up within days — especially if they were listed under $1 million.
The Innis Arden appeal? Spacious parcels capped at four single-family houses per acre with covenant-protected views. Composed of three plats linked by natural reserves and ravines, the neighborhood of more than 675 acres is crisscrossed by streets without sidewalks or overhead streetlights, and myriad walking trails.
Now, as retirees and homeowners who purchased here pre-1970s begin downsizing, available homes are starting to pop up.
“This is the first real turnover of generations and homes that I’ve seen since we’ve lived here,” says Marian Thom, a retired high-school Spanish teacher who moved to Innis Arden with her husband, Phil, and their preschooler children in 1974.
“We’ve always been such a close community — and I believe that the (outdoor) swimming pool is such a cohesive element,” says Marian Thom.
“When we first moved here, this is how I got to know people. In the summer, this was a unifying piece of life. It’s how our kids made friends. Families didn’t go anywhere until August when swim team (meets) were over,” she says, adding:
“From my yard in the summer, I still hear the race announcements and cheering from the swim meets and I get nostalgic.”
Thom’s memories are music to the ears of Randi Fatizzi, president of Innis Arden’s activities committee.
Her team is busy year-round, whipping up an all-ages social and sports calendar — funded by member dues and a whopper of an annual March rummage sale, an event thought to be one of the oldest of its kind in the area.
“Some of our volunteers have been working this (sale) for 47 years, and they don’t even know when it started,” Fatizzi says.
Profits benefit Innis Arden’s competitive summer-swim program (attracting nearly 100 kids ages 4 to 18), the outdoor tennis courts, wine tastings for adults, and an annual all-community summer salmon barbecue “dating back at least 45 years,” Fatizzi adds.
“We choose to stay because we love our home and it’s a great place for our grandchildren to come and visit, but there has been a lot more tear-downs and rebuilds recently,” Thom says.
Hanneli Turner, of Windermere Real Estate, who has sold homes in Innis Arden and whose own daughter lives there, agrees.
“Houses that do move quickly are often purchased by people who like the midcentury openness of the homes, but like the fact that they can gut it and do their own thing,” says Turner.
The median value of all single-family houses (not just those recently sold) in the 98177 ZIP code, which includes Innis Arden, was $405,400 in March, up 0.6 percent year-over-year and up 1.0 percent month-over-month, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
The median rent for single-family houses in that area was $1,906 a month in March, up 2.3 percent year-over-year, and down 0.4 percent month-over-month
For some potential buyers, the sticking point is the cost. Some of Innis Arden’s older homes need cosmetic updates; others need structural overhauls, Turner says. That can be make-or-break time for buyers, she says.
Second stories can’t be added if they block any neighbor’s view, according to the neighborhood bylaws.
Landscaping, also, is kept in check. Housing additions or elevation changes must be approved by all neighbors whose views are potentially affected by the proposal even before it is submitted to an Innis Arden building and remodels committee. One family recently needed 29 neighbors to OK their plans.
It’s a far cry from the neighborhood’s early days. As lore and history go, when Seattle aerospace granddaddy Bill Boeing went searching 80 years ago for a hunting and fishing retreat near his prestigious North Seattle mansion in The Highlands, he looked no farther than Innis Arden.
Pristine and undeveloped when he bought the sprawling acreage, the land was eventually logged off, platted for home sites and named in the early 1940s in honor of Boeing’s wife’s Connecticut country-club home. Now, Innis Arden’s 1,345 residents are part of the Shoreline School District, barely 5 minutes from Shoreline Community College, and a 10-minute driving connection to Interstate 5.
Coffee shops, a grocery store, several neighborhood bistros and other conveniences are no farther than 20 blocks away for most.
The neighborhood is considered “somewhat walkable” and got a rating of 55 (out of 100) from Walk Score, a Seattle-based company that provides automated walkability ratings. (There was no actual score available for the neighborhood, so the score was based on using the address of the Innis Arden Clubhouse at 1430 N.W. 188th.)
For Tracy Cameron and her husband — both physicians — and their kids, this means more opportunities to run into their neighbors. And that, says Marian Thom, is what makes Innis Arden so popular.
“We love it because one of the great pleasures of living in Innis Arden is getting to know families with young children,” Thom says.
“When we moved in 38 years ago, we had some wonderful next-door neighbors who were along in their years and they enjoyed our kids. Now, what goes around comes around: We like seeing the multigenerational thing happening again.”