Seattle Multi-Family Zoning Has a New Look

Seattle City Council has just adopted an updated plan for row-homes, townhomes, and cottages.  The first decade of the millennium was full of new construction and a majority of designs in Seattle were the townhomes.  

I don't want to give you the wrong idea; I do not have anything against townhomes.  They are a great solution for denser urban communities, and they take advantage of low-rise residential building designs at affordable prices.  However, after a decade, there was little change to the look and layout of these homes.  There was a need for more diversity and these may have been overbuilt in some areas.

These new codes should prevent a majority of the complaints from neighbors.  By creating the Streamlined Design Review (SDR), there will be better attention to designs so they flow with the neighborhoods.  For instance, townhomes with three or more units can only be put in multi-family zones.   Also, green building practices are encouraged and building materials between townhomes must be varied.

Multi-Family accounts for 9% of Seattle's land development is typically the buffer space between single family homes (SFH) and the commercial development.  As Seattle has continues to grow it's a comforting to see the attention on building design that will make sense in the long term.

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January 31 2011 - Seattle
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I am all for the new town home (Green) construction.  Some of the older town home construction worries me a little.  In just the last decade, some are showing signs of wear and tear, especially in the siding.  I am concerned they will start to look run down and drag down the values of neighborhoods like Greenwood, Ballard and Licton Springs.  Just my 2 cents.
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February 01 2011
As someone who has previously lived in brand new town homes in both Ballard and Pinehurst, I welcome these changes with open arms.

My main issue with how they are built is commonly referred to as the "Seattle 6 pack." 3 facing the street, 3 facing the rear property line, with nearly impossible to navigate driveways in between. 

Seattle Transit Blog and Publicola both chimed in on this subject a few weeks ago: http://seattletransitblog.com/2010/12/01/seattle-zoning-code-improves/

Given the average lot sizes of these projects, I have always felt that flat or duplex style townhomes would be a much more attractive option, Instead of 6 individual houses in a 2x3 pattern, build 3 larger buildings (that all face the street). From here you could have 3 stories of flats, or 4 stories with vertical duplexes (aka duplex down and duplex up).

-Geoff-
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February 01 2011
 
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Seattle Multi-Family Zoning Has a New Look
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