About As Good As It Gets For Market Rate, Mid-rise Multifamily

Not too shabby, this Brix condo building on Broadway.  Clean, well-proportioned, legible design; no extraneous decoration, and not afraid to let one style run the entire height and length of the facade; big but not monstrous; scaled down on the back side of the block with ground-related entries.   Even the retail tenants — Broadway institutions Dillitante and Vivace — are about as good as a building could hope for.  Well done, Mithun and Schnitzer West.

Of course, you get what you pay for, and this is not a cheap building.  The price tag on the smallest units — 550 square foot “open one bedrooms” — is about $300k (needless to say, sales have slowed as of late).  This is the reality of market rate multifamily housing:  good buildings are expensive to construct, and the cost gets passed on to the buyer.

Even if it had been designed to be “affordable” housing, the cost picture wouldn’t be much different, because the guts of the mid-rise multifamily buildings are typically all about the same — it’s only the facades and finishes that vary. So if we hope to keep our densifying neighborhoods like Capitol Hill economically diverse, we ought to be pushing for more programs like the proposed Seattle housing levy renewal — serious market intervention is the only way it’s going to happen.

[ The guts of Brix, under construction in December 2007 ]

And one more thing about the architecture of Brix:  hmm, do I detect a bit of a Mithuny signature?  Check out Gallery condos in the photo below:

[ Gallery condos on 2nd Ave in Belltown ]

Now, take three floors of Gallery for your base, turn Brix sideways and stack it on top, borrow the rooftop spoiler from the NBBJ Federal Courthouse, et voila: Mosler Lofts!

[ Mosler Lofts ]

12 Responses to “About As Good As It Gets For Market Rate, Mid-rise Multifamily”

  1. Chris


    Would be very interested in your thoughts on the affordable housing levy. My concern is that we’ve been doing it for a long time and it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference. Am I missing something? I wonder if a complete rethinking of zoning wouldn’t have a bigger impact. Certainly seems more likely to address the sheer ugliness factor.


  2. holz

    yech, all three are horrendous. what’s up w/ the sh*tty multi-fam architecture in seattle?

  3. Kathryn

    The top one looks like K Street in DC. The footprint is too big for the height. Maybe this crash will bring down land value.

  4. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    In Dallas, which for a variety of reasons sat out the bubble, land is relatively cheap but condos still go for $300k+ in walkable neighborhoods like Uptown.

  5. Chris

    hey, why re-invent the wheel. I’m sure they gave SNW a two-fer on fees, right?:)

    I think all three are some of the best large-scale new construction in Seattle

  6. Ped Xing

    I walk by Brix every day and think it is great, attractive urban housing. I go ga-ga whenever I see anything resembling row housing in Seattle. The individual entries off the “back” of the building (on 10th) build a nice rhythm. My big beef is the sunken unit entries off Mercer…who wants to buy a unit where the public can look down into it?

  7. dan cortland

    My big beef is the sunken unit entries off Mercer…who wants to buy a unit where the public can look down into it?

    One of Veer’s problems, too.

  8. Anna Markee

    Chris, per your question about the Housing Levy: One thing to keep in mind is that the Housing Levy focuses on people with extremely low-incomes like seniors and people with disabilities living on social security, families living on minimum wage, and the homeless.

    These households can sometimes only afford a couple hundred dollars a month in rent, if that. Plus, they often need services on-site that non-profits provide.

    Additionally, the Housing Levy produces permanently affordable housing. The apartments produced with levy dollars are legally required to restrict their rent for at least 50 years. The non-profit owners are in it for the long haul.

    The Housing Levy will never be able to meet ALL of Seattle’s affordable housing needs. But it does make a difference for thousands of families and individuals each year.

    Efforts to reduce the cost of housing production for market-rate developers may or may not reduce prices. As we are seeing now, the market determines the price to the consumer so we only really see rent and price decreases in a recession like now.

    Other efforts like incentives for developers to include affordable housing are another important tool to complement the Housing Levy. While the levy focuses on the most vulnerable, incentive programs are better suited to house people with good jobs who still have a hard time affording a home near their job. We need multiple tools to address the housing affordability crisis.

    I hope you will support the Housing Levy in November.

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