Family marks anniversary of Ridge move

Kim and Gary Horn made local history three years ago. As the first residents of Snoqualmie Ridge, the young couple moved into their new Autumn Avenue home filled with excitement, optimism and anticipation.

"The Horns really were pioneers," Ed Vetter, Snoqualmie Ridge general manager, said with a chuckle. "Nobody else lived there, so they were much more familiar with the sound of earth scrapers than neighbors."

There have been many changes at the Ridge since that day in April 1998, when the Horns unloaded their rented moving van and unpacked the first boxes. Now there are neighbors, parks and a Tournament Players Club golf course. The commercial district will begin development when KeyBank breaks ground for the first Snoqualmie Ridge business this spring. Three major parks and the baseball and soccer fields will be officially dedicated at a May 5 grand opening.

There have been many personal changes as well. The Horns wanted to start a family, and five months ago the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Ryan. Kim wanted to become active in her new community. She turned her desire into reality through her work with children. Now teaching second grade at Snoqualmie Elementary School, she has been on the board of directors for the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation for the past two years.

When they moved to Snoqualmie Ridge, Horn commuted to his downtown Seattle job with Price Waterhouse. Today his career is tied to the community, and the commute is just a few minutes to a new job at Phillips Oral Health Care Inc., formerly Optiva.

While excited about their move, the Horns had initial apprehensions three years ago, expressing concern for privacy with the homes situated so close together. They were also aware that Snoqualmie residents had mixed feelings about the development, fearing the town would be divided into two separate, very different, communities.

"Things worked out just fine," Gary said. "We got used to having close neighbors, and we came to know them real well. The bottom line is that we're lucky to be in such a nice neighborhood, living among people who are a lot like us, working and raising families. As new parents, we've had good support and good advice from our neighbors."

For all their expectations, the couple noted there were also a few surprises. One of them came last fall when a strong windstorm blew through Snoqualmie Ridge, knocking down trees and ripping away roofs and siding.

"That was definitely a surprise, and it definitely does take some adjustment," Gary commented. "But that's life in this area. We'll get used to it."

Drawn by the conveniences of a city in a scenic rural setting, the Horns acknowledge that it will take a sustained effort to keep historic Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Ridge development integrated.

"People are working real hard to make sure there is a blend," Gary said. "As a planned community this was very well done, but old Snoqualmie is an important part of it."

Vetter seconded Gary's sentiment.

"We're working hard to make sure there is adequate infrastructure and services for all Snoqualmie," he said. "It has taken a lot of effort and diligence. We're determined to remain diligent."

With the new neighbors, new baby and new jobs, the Horns say their pioneering experience has been positive, and they are looking forward to more changes in the evolving community.

"The retail businesses can't come soon enough," Gary said. "Everyone is talking about it. We're all excited to see what will be coming in. My dentist said he would like to open an office up here, and I think there will be a good variety. It's very exciting."

The popularity enjoyed by Snoqualmie Ridge is evident in a report issued by Chicago Title Co., Vetter said. The company accumulated data on the fastest selling plats in King County for the year 2000. Snoqualmie Ridge ranked first, closing 239 home sales and more than doubling 1999 sales. Its closest competitor closed 92 sales, with an average of 30 homes closing per plat in the top 25 survey.

"This is the most exciting community in the Puget Sound," Vetter said, adding that the construction projections and timetables set out in the master plan are on schedule. "It's just going to keep getting better, especially with our involvement in the Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative. This is a dynamic community and there's not another one like it."

The Horns, pioneers turned seasoned veterans, remain as optimistic and enthused as they were on that bright spring day in 1998.

"We absolutely intend to stay for the long-term," Gary concluded. "We made the right decision, and we feel very lucky."

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