From January 2000 until a few weeks ago, I lived (and worked, when I was a freelance consultant) in a townhouse-style condo in Seattle in the Laurelon Terrace complex. I sold it to Children’s Hospital in January to allow them to tear it down and turn it into more condos. It was a good time for me to leave, our family had outgrown the small townhouse, and we had a guaranteed buyer in a down housing market.
This, of course, is why nothing gets done in Seattle. If you tear down a beloved institution (such as Ballard’s Sunset Bowl) to build more condos, people complain bitterly. If you tear down condos to build more beloved insitution (Children’s hospital), people complain bitterly. You think I’m joking about complaining bitterly. Check out the tone of the posts at childrensaction.com. Hell, people even complain bitterly about parking lots being turned into condos. Really.
I’m sad to leave (some parts) of the Laurelon community behind. There’s a lot to be said for shared-space medium density. Getting to know your neighbors, hanging out in the courtyard and and parking lots.
The other parts that I’m not as sad to leave behind? The constantly rising HOA dues brought on by years of neglecting upkeep. The HOA board, generally staffed by misanthropic busybodies whose default response to any idea is “no”. The neighbors who would blur the lines between personal and shared property. Hey, that’s MY bucket you’re using!
I looked into contemporary townhouses, but they are both antisocial and anti-family. Antisocial in that they all seem to be built with an ethic of minimizing shared property/interactions (why have one usable yard used by four families when you could have four unusably tiny yards each used by one family?) Anti-family in the ubiquitous “two bedrooms on the 3rd floor, one bedroom in the basement” floor-plan. You can’t put a small kid all the way down in the basement next to the garage, calling those rooms “bedrooms” isn’t particularly honest.
Note that the bedroom count inflation problem isn’t limited to townhouses. I toured a lot of 3BR houses that were actually “2BR + crappy basement closet”. In fact, our 3BR home was listed as a 4BR even though it only has three usable bedrooms. Oh well, at least we have a space to store our boxes as we unpack.