Since 2000, Seattle has had the fastest growth of town homes or row houses among the 100 largest U.S. cities.
What is the quintessential Seattle home?
A lot of folks would say the craftsman — a century-old charmer that hearkens back to an era when timber, rather than tech, fueled Seattle’s economy. Others might think of a romantic Lake Union floating home, a la “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Well, here’s a reality slap: If any home typifies Seattle these days, it’s the attached kind.
I’m referring, of course, to the contemporary town home and row house. No city has embraced them the way Seattle has. Sure, they’ve been called names, like ugly and shoddy. They’ve even been blamed for destroying the character of Seattle’s neighborhoods.
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But it hasn’t made any difference.
I looked at the rate of growth of attached homes in the 100 largest U.S. cities. Seattle ranks No. 1. Between 2000 and 2013, the number nearly tripled to more than 16,000, according to census data.
Our town-home and row-house boom is all the more remarkable when you consider that just 10.1?percent of city land is zoned for them, according to the Department of Planning and Development. Clearly, wherever zoning allows for it, they’re being built.
It’s not hard to understand the popularity of these attached homes, even if they might not be the first choice of many buyers. According to Northwest Multiple Listing Service, they run about $55,000 less than single-family homes at the moment, which are back in record-setting territory with a median price of $535,000 in Seattle. So maybe sharing a wall doesn’t sound so bad, after all. And at least you won’t have an upstairs neighbor.
Price isn’t the only factor, however. Vintage homes, for all their charm, can be a lot of work. Town homes are newer, requiring less upkeep. They are more energy-efficient. And with a smaller footprint than detached homes, they’ve certainly helped absorb some of the increased density in our fast-growing city.
Census data shows that the growth in attached housing units has affected some neighborhoods much more than others. The two tracts with the largest numerical gains in these homes are both in the Greenwood/Licton Springs area. Fremont, Ballard, Magnolia, North Beacon Hill and High Point in West Seattle are among the neighborhoods that have seen the biggest jumps.
Even with the recent proliferation of attached homes in Seattle, here’s some perspective: They still account for only about 5 percent of homes here. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to some older East Coast cities. In Philadelphia and Baltimore, where row houses are a long-standing tradition, it’s more than half.
Explore the data for yourself using our interactive map below.