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Originally published June 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 2, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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Neighborhood of the week

Friendly, upscale Lakemont just right for walking

Watching the sun rise over the Cascade Mountains is one of Raeanne Balzarini's favorite parts of living in the Lakemont neighborhood in...

Special to The Seattle Times

Distance to downtown Seattle: About 13 miles

Recreation: Lakemont Community Park, 5170 Village Park Drive S.E. Lakemont's community park features jogging trails, a softball field, a skate park, a basketball court, two tennis courts, playground equipment and greenbelts.

Historic fact: There is a small mistake stamped into a concrete barrier of the $12.6 million Lakemont Boulevard Southeast project. It is the year "1998," meant to commemorate the completion of the most expensive road project in Bellevue's history; the project was not finished until June 1999.

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf

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Watching the sun rise over the Cascade Mountains is one of Raeanne Balzarini's favorite parts of living in the Lakemont neighborhood in Bellevue.

"You feel really good when you get up in the morning. It is beautiful, and it makes you realize why you live in the Northwest," said Balzarini, who has lived with her family in Lakemont for 20 years and is the original owner of her home.

The Lakemont area comprises several developments on the western side of Cougar Mountain. While primarily in the Bellevue city limits, it extends to Issaquah.

Most subdivisions have titles utilizing Lakemont, such as Greystone at Lakemont or Wyngate at Lakemont.

Lakemont Boulevard Southeast divides the area, with the development on one side of the boulevard rising higher onto Cougar Mountain and consisting of large homes.

Homes on the other side of the boulevard are a bit smaller but still average about 3,000 square feet.

Homes on both sides of the boulevard start at around $900,000, and those that come on the market have sold quickly, says Susan Baker, a real-estate agent with Executive Real Estate who lives in the Sky Mountain area of Lakemont.

Distance to downtown Seattle: About 13 miles

Recreation: Lakemont Community Park, 5170 Village Park Drive S.E. Lakemont's community park features jogging trails, a softball field, a skate park, a basketball court, two tennis courts, playground equipment and greenbelts.

Historic fact: There is a small mistake stamped into a concrete barrier of the $12.6 million Lakemont Boulevard Southeast project. It is the year "1998," meant to commemorate the completion of the most expensive road project in Bellevue's history; the project was not finished until June 1999.

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf

The Lakemont area is continuing to grow, with new custom-built homes and subdivisions being constructed on the outer edges. The first developments began in the early 1980s, with custom-built homes and a boom of subdivisions coming in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The opening of Lakemont Boulevard in 1999 constitutes one of the biggest changes in the area's history. The street created quick, direct access to Interstate 90 and relieved rush-hour congestion.

"Before Lakemont Boulevard opened, traffic was a bottleneck," said Baker, "Now, it is perfect. We are very close to Bellevue and Issaquah."

Along with Lakemont Boulevard came a popular retail center anchored by Matthew's Thriftway and a Starbucks. There also is a Blockbuster video store, dry cleaning, two spas and a restaurant.

The schools were a big draw for Balzarini and Baker. Both wanted the popular neighborhood school Cougar Ridge Elementary (in the Issaquah School District) within walking distance.

"As mothers, we would walk our kids to school and back. I gained wonderful, lasting friendships this way," said Balzarini, mother of three.

Walking in general is a hallmark of living on the north side of Lakemont Boulevard.

When the weather is nice, the road looks a little like a California boardwalk packed with walkers.

"On sunny days, it kind of reminds me of being on vacation because everyone walks. ... This is a great thing in this fast-paced day and age," Balzarini says.

Darla Schild enjoys the close-knit aspect of her Silverleaf development, saying, "I grew up in a small town in Indiana, and I feel like Lakemont has that small-town environment."

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