What Apodments Can Do For You

Sigh. Now the news is full of apodments. I like saying the word, apodments, because it sounds like part of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address that was edited out. I hear him saying, in that beautiful Boston accent, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask when you can move into an apodment!”

Your new apodment?

But seriously, apodments are good for our country—or at least our city—since they offer an affordable alternative people who want to squeeze into city life affordably. Some neighborhood groups are beginning to band together in a kind of pan-NIMBYism to halt the spread of this kind of housing, but I think it’s misguided. People worried about the price of housing should love apodments. And so should neighborhoods.

From an economic standpoint, apodments make sense. As I wrote in another post, smaller, compact, and tiny apartments are an efficient use of space, creating new development projects that can lead to construction jobs. If someone owns two single-family lots in Eastlake, why not let them create a project that will maximize the use of that land, and allow people to live how they choose to? I’ve been going on and on lately about how we Seattle liberals need to let go, and let the market when it comes to land use. Apodments make sense, encouraging property owners to maximize the use of their land.

And housing price, something I think we shouldn’t worry and fret about so much, is something that still troubles Seattleites. The problem, the price worrywarts say, is that, “Seattle is too expensive.” The apodment, tiny and more affordable units right in the heart of active vibrant neighborhoods, is an excellent way to open up real estate renters could never afford.

Living in dense, vibrant neighborhoods means a person doesn’t need a car. Neighbors who live by proposed apodments express a worry about parking. I’ll admit, the parking in Eastlake, especially on the street where the apodments are proposed, is really bad. Could it be any worse? I doubt it. And I don’t think the City should be subsidizing parking by mandating that developers build it. If nobody wants to rent an apodment because it has no parking, the price of the apodment will come down, and people won’t build them anymore. If they do, it’s likely that the renter doesn’t own a car in the first place—saving money is part of why they’re moving into an apodment.

Apodments aren’t for everyone, but why not see what happens with them? I think it’s weird that neighbors, particularly in Eastlake, who own big, spacious homes, are coming out on their lawns to defend the poor, pathetic, hapless, future apodment renters. “A pod is not a home!” declares one flier. Why not let potential apodment renters decide for themselves whether they can make a pod a home?

The thing about local opposition to apodments that discredits it almost immediately is that the opponents are saying that the potential renter of an apodment doesn’t really want to live there. If that’s true, that potential renter won’t rent an apodment. If enough people walk away from apodments, the projects will go unrented and they will fail. On the other hand, if lots of people love apodments, renters will pay rent and forgo a car.

Let’s give the apodment a try. If it’s true that nobody really wants to live there, then these kinds of projects will lose money, and nobody will build them anymore. If they succeed, then we’ve created some good, infill development for people who don’t have a lot of money to spend on rent and cars, but want to live in the heart of the city. And yes, if I could, I’d live in one myself.




Comments

  1. JayH says

    If you work at someplace like Microsoft where food is available at all times, and you spend your waking hours there anyway, apodments are ideal. A bed, a bath, and a place to put your other pair of shoes. What more do you need?

      • Lack Thereof says

        High rental housing costs on the eastside? With all the bitching and moaning people do about the Seattle rental market, it’s easy to forget that Redmond is much, much worse.

        But I wouldn’t actually encourage anyone to subject themselves to a cross-lake commute.

      • Bernie says

        With all the bitching and moaning people do about the Seattle rental market, it’s easy to forget that Redmond is much, much worse.

        That must mean that’s where the highest demand is, right? Must eliminate the GMA since it defies market demand. A true liberal would support sprawl since it’s the ticket to cheap housing that people really want. Even if you want city livin’ you must support repeal of the GMA so that it reduces demand on in city housing and thereby lowers cost, right?

      • Martin H. Duke says

        I would happily trade a total lift on density restrictions, region-wide, for repeal of the GMA.

        That said, there’s often a tension between short-term interests of the poor and environmental imperatives, so I’m not sure why you’re surprised.

    • Chris I says

      Most families can, it’s more of a question of where. If property values increase, and you still want a lot of space, you will probably need to move further from the city center. It doesn’t make sense to restrict density because a certain segment of the population prefers one style of living.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      The only way a family is going to be able to afford that is if we offer things like this so that people who don’t need much space – but can afford it – aren’t forced to outbid families to live in the city.

  2. BigDonLives says

    apodments = white people not having to slum it in the more “colorful” neighborhoods of the city. Looking at South end rents, I don’t see an affordability crisis but rather Lance and Cindee not wanting to live there…

    • David L says

      I have a small South Seattle apartment and I pay much more in rent than these apodments cost. (Granted, my apartment is in a new building, but part of the reason I chose it is because the older, crappier apartments weren’t that much cheaper.)

    • Chris I says

      There are many aspects to living decisions other than price per square foot. I don’t know why this is such a big deal for some people…

    • Zach Shaner says

      I just left Capitol Hill for the CD and saved gobs of money. While I don’t agree with BigDon’s diagnosis of hipster-racism as the reason for high demand in Capitol Hill, it IS rather remarkable how quickly the price drops south of Union. Sub-$1000 rents are still fairly easy to find. Just 1-mile from the heart of the Hill you can still buy modest homes for ~$300k where your mortgage payment ($1,500-ish) is less than the new studios coming on line at places like Citizen, CoppinsWell, and Lawrence Lofts.

      • Mike Orr says

        Transit is one aspect of that. Living on the 2, 3, 4, or 12 offers about half as many destinations (e.g., supermarkets) and direct transfers (e.g., to the U-district) compared to the 10, 11, 14, 43, and 49. Historically the frequency has been worse, although the gap has decreased.

      • Brad says

        I haven’t seen many homes that didn’t require major fixing at the 300k price point in the CD.

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      I think it’s more that people want to be close to school/work/friends than don’t want to be around X population.

  3. chrismealy says

    Now that Roger’s outed himself as a libertarian [ad hom] in his previous post I want to know how he can support public transit.

    • Matt Johnson says

      I think it comes from not being an ideologue. Some things the market does better, other things the government.

      And even that is an over simplification, as most every time you need a combination of two, market incentives and government regulations.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        +1

        I don’t want a corporation selling me my water. I don’t want the government designing my cell phone.

    • David L says

      Because you can believe in the general benefit of markets without believing that they do everything perfectly.

      The urban housing market works pretty well (not flawlessly, but reasonably) when left to its own devices.

      By contrast, leaving transportation entirely to the market creates obvious and huge externalities and social problems.

      • David L says

        In a lot of less developed countries.

        You end up with a combination of horrific traffic, very low throughput, safety problems, and scads of excess pollution and wasted time.

        There’s a reason no developed country takes that approach, with all of them choosing heavily subsidized and regulated transportation systems.

      • Bill Bradburd says

        “You end up with a combination of horrific traffic, very low throughput, safety problems, and scads of excess pollution and wasted time.”

        sounds like Seattle

    • chrismealy says

      Yeah, I agree with you guys, but Roger is reading from the extreme right-wing playbook 100%. I want him to explain how he squares his free market triumphalism with public transportation.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Do you have a link to anything he’s said that backs that statement up? I feel like I read much of what he writes, and haven’t caught anything from the “extreme right-wing playbook”.

      • David L says

        There is nothing in anything Roger said that is from the “extreme right-wing playbook.”

        Liberalizing zoning rules and codes that currently foreclose development of almost anything but large SFH, regardless of demand for alternative housing, has been a standard position of much of the urban left for a number of years now.

        In theory, the right-wing approach to this question would be to remove the zoning code entirely, not to liberalize it. In practice, the right-wing approach would be to favor whatever changes irritate the left the most, including retention of strict SFH zoning if necessary.

      • chrismealy says

        Are you guys kidding? Maybe you aren’t as familiar with right-wing ideology. That’s ok. I’ve wasted too much time reading that junk. Here’s a rundown of all the right-wing stuff Roger linked to in his last post: Mandeville’s “Fable of the Bees” is a very early (pre-Adam Smith) laissez-faire tract. It’s something that libertarians cite when they’re trying to look smart. Nobody actually reads it. City Journal is libertarian magazine. Roger’s Keynes link goes to a right-wing site. He links to Russ Roberts’s appalling Hayek/Keynes videos. Roberts is Koch hack! And Hayek is obviously a major right-wing icon. There’s nothing in there that’s not right-wing ideology. The only thing he’s missing is a misleading paraphrase of Adam Smith.

        In order to make the case for taller buildings Roger is making a general case for the unlimited rights of property. If some developer decides to build a giant parking lot or an arsenic smelter next to a transit station all of his logic still applies. If self-organization is so great why even have a transit system? Why not let a million little transit companies flourish instead? It’s obvious to us transit nerds, but if you take Roger seriously he’s undermining the basis for the public infrastructure that makes city living possible.

        America has spent the last 35 years doing the deregulation and anti-government thing. Many progressives have reacted to that by trying to achieve progressive ends with conservative means. Like if you use conservative rhetoric they’ll go along with your policies. It’s been a failure. Look at health care reform. The bill that passed was designed in right-wing think tanks in the 1990s. They obviously don’t support their own ideas now, but they didn’t really back then either. They were bluffing. All this free-market urbanism stuff is going to be used against cities too and we need to watch out for it.

      • David L says

        So Roger linked to some libertarian sources in a post last week. Big deal. Land use is an area where, these days, libertarians and liberals can make a lot of common cause, because the market is showing that people like the sort of dense land use that promotes environmental conservation and transit. Most of the obstacles to that sort of land use these days are regulatory.

        The real right wing is not really libertarian (it never was), and its ideology looks very, very different from anything Roger has posted, libertarian sources or not. Essentially, it is fighting a raging culture war with a specific goal of pissing liberals off and frustrating their desired policy outcomes. This is why you see the ideologically perplexing spectacle of Republicans fighting for more restrictive zoning regulations and huge subsidies for government-funded highway contractors, and it’s really why the more extreme ones are so petrified of the ridiculous Agenda 21 bogeyman.

      • says

        Chrismealy,

        You are correct that I am injecting some economic theories into the discussion in order to spark the kind of discussion going on right here. That is exactly what I was looking for.

        Is it possible to maintain our overall progressive ideology while trying different economic principles and models. There’s no conspiracy here and no, I am not a libertarian. Quite the opposite, I think mandates are essential and if you read what I’ve written I’ve said, in certain areas around transit, we ought to set the limits of use by the market and by health and safety. That rules out the smelter since no investor is likely to pay for something like that and it would by manifestly unhealthy.

        The question is, can we create a new hybrid ideology that combines the idea that, when applied therapeutically, free market principles can lead us to the sustainable outcomes we are looking for? Is the only way to get to sustainability and good development through more rules? I am suggesting that maybe the rules are what’s getting in the way.

        The problem with what you’re doing here is that you’re being a little Maoist in your criticism. “Roger has linked to conservative websites!” Off to the re-education camp with him!

        The fact that I have been persuaded by the idea of spontaneous order and actually read the Fable of the Bees doesn’t disqualify me from the discourse.

        As an intellectual DJ, I’m just spinning some stuff into the mix that some people have never heard. Just keep dancing.

      • chrismealy says

        Sorry pal, your extremism doesn’t make me a Maoist. It makes you an extremist.

        Roger, one more time, if you actually agree with the libertarian junk you’re pushing, how can you support public transit? Why shouldn’t transportation spontaneously organize as well? Answer that and I’ll lay off.

      • Nathanael says

        Roger, linking to discredited right-wing ideologues — and frankly anything promoting Hayek — is not going to help your case. Hayek had a few good ideas early on, but is very disreputable among sane people due to his utterly insane economic ideas which have become economic doctrine among a certain group of right-wingers — basically, Hayek believed that buying a new coat would cause people to become unemployed, and it’s *just not true*, but it’s a favored doctrine among “anti-Keynesian” types.

  4. Jeff says

    It’s almost as if folks living in single family homes forget that there are people in different stages of life at different income levels that single family homes don’t accommodate. I loved living in a single family home for the first 18 years of my life, but when it came time to find housing for my entry level income, there’s no way I could have afforded to live in the same neighborhood I grew up in (even had I wanted to be that close to my parents). Many would argue that a diversity of generations makes for a better place to live, but while we would all love to be able to afford a big front lawn and a special room for dining less than a mile from the city center, apodments seem like a great way to allow a burgeoning echo-boomer population full of people like myself to participate in the Seattle dream of neighborhood living. That being said, I think the folks in charge of branding them could have found a slightly less Space Odyssey sounding title.

    • David L says

      It’s almost as if folks living in single family homes forget that there are people in different stages of life at different income levels that single family homes don’t accommodate.

      Spot on. Or they don’t forget, they just don’t like younger people, because they play weird music and like to stay up late. Sometimes I think the SFH boosters would rather just hang a big sign on Seattle that says “Over 40 Only.”

      • Brent says

        Want to control these youngster pests? Put them in apartments with rules and a manager, not renting out rooms in an SFH with an absentee landlord. It also tends to produce better results with the landscaping.

  5. Glenn says

    Rooming houses and dorms have been around forever. “Apodments” is just a gentrification of the idea, making them somewhat more expensive.

    • Daniel says

      The monthly rent at the “Terazza” apodments is less than half the rent at the Seattle U dorm across the street.

      Apodments by Calhoun Properties

      Seattle U Housing

      Seattle U’s Campion and Bellarmine buildings offer double rooms for ~$800 per month when shared with another student (making the total rent ~$1600 per month. This is approximately triple the cost of an apodment, for a room that is slightly smaller. Dorms are not cheaper than Apodments. I know several SU students who would love to get apodments.

    • Brent says

      UW could really stand to have more dormitories. Why not build some up by Roosevelt Station?

    • Mike Orr says

      It’s not just a gentrification of the idea, it’s a revival of it. Sub-studio apartments went out of fashion with the postware prosperity, and the zoning laws made them illegal. Only a very few old “SRO hotels” or SROs-turned-studios are left in Seattle, and the modern “efficiency units” or “workforce housing” have been almost absent. Apodments are a return to a wider variety of housing options.

      • Neo-Realist says

        It’s a shame that studios are going the way of the dodo bird–some workforce shlubs just wanna cook their meals on a stove without having to compete for it with other tenants.

      • Mike Orr says

        Studios are still being built. Some buildings are all studios and 1 BR, others include studios in a wider range of unit sizes.

      • Lack Thereof says

        It’s a ton easier to find a reasonably priced studio or 1bd than it is to find an affordable 2+ bd.

        If I wasn’t married I would have no housing problems at all.

      • Mike Orr says

        The construction of studios probably went down in the last quarter of the past century as apartment construction was mainly in the suburbs where studios are less acceptable. But it picked up again in the 2000s as the city became hip, and with it studio apartments and condos became more popular. The Station at Othello Park has studios, and I believe most of the other new buildings do.

  6. Sophia Katt says

    I don’t have a problem with the concept of a boarding house arrangement, which is what an “apodment” is. That kind of housing diversity can be a plus for a region. I have a major problem with the unreasonable size and general ugly architectural construction of the existing samples. Affordability can be done well, and can enhance a neighborhood. Doing it badly makes the rest of the hood really anti-change which keeps good examples of the style out, and sentences those of us who have committed to the hood (not just passing through for a couple/three years) to decades of those bad buildings’ effects, buildings that eat away at the quality of the collective urban fabric one by one.

    • Shane Phillips says

      That’s a pretty serious charge to be leveling at something as simple as a building. Can you explain how, in the case of apodments, they’re “doing it badly” and especially how they “eat away at the quality of the collective urban fabric”?

    • matt hays says

      By not having parking, or just having a space or two by the alley, they avoid the worst aspect of Seattle’s medium-density infill, driveways dominating the site and frontage.

      • Adam Bejan Parast says

        Thanks for the link. I knew most of this already but this is a great play by play.

      • Nathanael says

        “In the industry, we call this DBZ: Design By Zoning. Whenever zoning restrictions become so detailed, numerous, and onerous that there is only one possible way to satisfy them, you will inevitably get a whole lot of whatever that one possible way dictates. ”

        This is why the UK’s “planning permission” — few set rules, but must ask individual permission from the local government before building ANYTHING — is better than the US “zoning” system.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      I think most of the apodments that have been built so far are attractive for what they are. They’re not the ugly 4/6/8-pack housing that Seattle found to be acceptable for infil. Sure, they’re not brick or stone faced, but I can imagine people looking back on these fondly after a few decades.

      I’m also excited about Seattle having rowhouses, though something has kept those from reaching the market yet. Maybe we don’t have enough zones where they’re allowed?

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Sophia, the solution is then to pass this, and then go work for improvements, just like the multifamily code just did to improve on townhouses and stop building the really ugly stuff we were getting a few years ago.

    • shotsix says

      I think Ms. Katt is [ad hom]! Seriously, the Apodments that I see almost daily (on 23rd and E John, and 11th? and E John) are possibly bland, but not ugly. The landscaping is maintained nicely, and the exterior looks as favorable (or better) as most of the neighboring properties. I really hate these fake arguments…they’re just false front NIMBYs.

      • Sophia Katt says

        Shotsix, please refrain from the unnecessarily combative tone re “fake arguments”. Just a few badly designed buildings can really torch the feel and desirability of a neighborhood, and galvanize the local property owners to oppose any sort of density at all. Look at what is happening now in Tangletown:

        http://www.seattleweekly.com/2012-07-25/news/dan-duffus-crowded-houses/

        I’m not militantly anti-modern construction, and I am definitely a supporter of built density. But the first few projects in a neighborhood for new forms set the tone and “educate” the local population as to what can be expected in future projects, and the two you mention are new. Your description “bland” is kind. The buildings are also constructed out of materials that will not wear especially well or behave in an ecologically effective fashion by 2030, when the City of Seattle wants to achieve net zero energy standards for the built environment.

        The present apodment projects are unfortunately serving as warning demonstrations for a number of neighborhoods now. This is the kind of dialogue that the present buildings are inspiring:

        http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2012/08/06/apodments-stay-away

      • Nathanael says

        The problem is zoning.

        Highly detailed zoning laws encourage “design-to-fit-the-rules”, as “GW” documented in the link given by Matt Johnson.

        Instead, you would probably get good results with a process where each individual project must be vetted (perhaps even voted on?), and once it was individually approved, that would be that — even if the project had nonstandard “setbacks”, nonstandard height, nonstandard number of parking spaces, etc.

        Then the people could actually advocate for projects to use “best practices”. Instead, the easiest path for developers is to find “loopholes” in the byzantine zoning codes.

        Sometimes you get better results with vague rules (“we want you to make durable, environmentally sound, pretty houses without annoying the neighbors”) than with detailed ones (the Seattle Land Use Code).

  7. Chris Stefan says

    “Apodment” type developments have been going up in the U-District for years. Let us also not forget all of the older large single family homes that are rented out as rooming houses.

    I agree with Rodger that these are no big deal and the neighbors just need to get over themselves.

    This reminds me of all of the uproar over some new buildings in Beltown offering small efficiency condos and apartments. If I want to buy a 300 sf. condo why should anyone stop me? But no you see lots of people tut-tutting with phony concern over how anyone could possibly live in that small a space.

  8. Andrew Smith says

    I think “apodments” would garner a lot less ill-will if they had a better name than “apodments”. Maybe it’s too late, but can we call them small apartments?

  9. Brent says

    This might actually be a move by some in the neighborhood to privatize the on-street parking (on the public right-of-way) into being for residents only. I’m fine with that, if the neighbors are paying a reasonable fee for the parking permits.

    • Chris I says

      Why not just meter the spaces with a system that charges market-based rates for the spots, like SF Park? Rental agreements tend to under-price the spaces.

      • sambrag says

        If I were Dictator of Seattle, I’d have all on-street parking metered, with pricing being based on demand.

        That way, 2 hours in the U-District is $9.00, and 4 hours in West Seattle is $5.00, or something like that.

  10. J. Ev. says

    I’m a bit confused by the statement closing this article, “And yes, if I could, I’d live in one myself.” If the author means to imply that due to the apodment’s small space he cannot live in one, then his support for apodments loses its balance.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      I’d love to live in one if I didn’t have a family. But I do. Does that “lose my balance” on this issue? That feels like a weak ad hominem attack.

      I’m also in favor of urban retirement housing, even though I’m not old.

    • David L says

      People have different needs.

      I would have *loved* an apodment during my college years; it would have worked better than the dorm for me. But now it wouldn’t make any sense for me to live in one. I have a lot of stuff, I like to cook, and I can afford more space. So does that disqualify me from supporting apodment construction? I think not.

  11. Shane Phillips says

    One thing that seems to be overlooked with these units is their value to new Seattle residents. If I’d never lived in Seattle before (and perhaps never even visited), but was moving here to start a new job at Amazon or Microsoft, apodments would be a great way to get a feel for the city without committing to a long lease and without dropping a lot of money the day I arrived. I know plenty of people who have moved to Seattle for the first time without much knowledge of the area, just to realize that the year-long lease they signed was in an area they aren’t really interested in living in. I’m pretty certain that apodments do 3 month (maybe even shorter) leases, allowing new arrivals to get acquainted with the city before making any big commitments. I realize this isn’t the only type of person who would be interested in this type of living arrangement, but I think it could account for a faily large part of the target demographic.

    • matt hays says

      I don’t know whether apodments sometimes have short-term leases, but we do have apartment/hotels. I stayed in one for a few months once. It was $1,700 per month or something for 250 sf, but furnished, with maid service, etc. Located in takeout food nirvana on LQA.

      • Shane Phillips says

        Well, that’s kind of my point. I think many people (though not all) would rather spend 600 a month for a while while they figure things out, rather than 1500+.

    • Kevin McClain says

      I agree about new residents. I recently lived in Sydney for two years while my girlfriend and I went to school. We lived in a 240sf studio. By having a place so small, we were able to afford live in a really nice neighborhood that was within walking distance of the CBD.

      The unit was furnished and worked perfectly for us, considering that we were only planning to stay for two years. I think I would have been unhappy in a larger unit that was further from the city.

      • Kyle S. says

        Kevin, you have struck exactly upon the tradeoff that makes Apodments livable: they can be built in the thick of things, where you have a community to support the activities and needs you would otherwise need to incorporate into your rental.

        If you live in an apartment community in the suburbs, you need the space in your apartment to entertain guests to fulfill your social needs. If you live in the center city, the local bar or coffee shop can effectively become your living room.

      • David L says

        Kyle S., that’s an astute observation, and I’d never thought of it in quite those terms, even though my life is a good example. It’s a convincing counterargument to one of the most frequently cited reasons why people don’t want to, or don’t think they can, downsize to a city space.

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      I have a friend of a friend who is in this exact situation. He moved here looking for a teaching job and trying to get some part time work till he can find what he is looking for. He’s been lucky because my friends and others have let him crash at their place until he can take over another friends lease but this would be perfect for people that don’t have that support structure.

  12. says

    Alternatively, move to one of the many new agriurbs popping up along the Sounder stations from Sumner to Lakewood. Plenty of space, and large apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms for under $1000.

    • Shane Phillips says

      Definitely an option, John, but not one that everyone would be interested in (just like any other specific, single type of residency). Which is why both types of housing should be allowed to exist.

    • Zed says

      Agriurbs? Funny considering that lifestyle is pretty much destroying all of the agriculture in Western Washington. What term will you coin after all the agriculture is gone?

    • David L says

      Since everyone loves an hour’s commute each way, particularly the “crash pad” types already working/studying 12-hour days.

      If I had needed to commute that far when I was in school and already spending from 8 am to 10 pm every day at school, I think I would have shot myself.

      • says

        Well ultimately each Sounder station will become a “Seattle”.

        It’s already happening in Auburn (if any of you armchair transitistas ever get on a Sounder and visit it).

        So, by integrating fast travel to existing businesses, it ultimately brings business downstate and makes potential commutes shorter, and employment more local.

        This will deflate the overheated Seattle market and make things more reasonable for the average worker everywhere.

    • Lack Thereof says

      Get Sounder running all-day instead of peak-only and I’d be interested.

      As-is, though, Burien is as far out as I’ll go.

  13. Joseph Singer says

    The people in Eastlake somehow think that they are entitled to big single family homes and that only they are entitled to the “quality of life” they have in Eastlake. An apodment _is_ a home for someone.

    • Jeremy says

      Yeah, between I-5 and the parking lot that is currently northbound Eastlake Ave (those poor 70 riders), you would think the anti-density residents of Eastlake (that is, not me) might not want to encourage additional car trips, as that would bring only more congestion from folks polluting their way through Eastlake.

      Oh! and the seaplanes dropping leaded gas fumes. Yum yum. Maybe in the post-ironic age there will not be a Cancer Research center right next to the freeway.

  14. dbcoop says

    let’s call these abortions what they are – chawls. no wonder the developers are pitching them to microsoftees.

    of course apodments make economic sense – for developers. they rent them out at 2-3x/sf what typical apartments rent at. for that increased revenue, the public gets effing eyesores, poorly proportioned & detailed abortions which will last 20 years and proceed to become the detritus of the neighborhood, a la ‘sisleyville’.

    let’s look at what’s in it for the rentee, based on your linky. sub-standard apartments kitted out w/ cheap appliances, mismatched po-dunk cabinets and crappy finishes. nothing about these energy hogs screams ‘green’. and no, density – in and of itself, especially when it’s an ugly effing building that won’t last long – ain’t green.

    i agree we need more dense, vibrant neighborhoods, but unlike the tenements of philly or NYC – these abortions don’t have any ‘bones’. there’s nothing vibrant about them. they provide density in the way indian food provides big shits. temporarily, and at great cost to our bowels (neighborhoods).

    eastlake is ‘full of big, spacious homes’?!? do you think it’s issaquah? most of eastlake isn’t large at all – you may be confusing it with portage bay. if you want good, liveable infill development – then push the city to allow rowhouses in SF zones. this piecemeal crap does little to solve the problem.

    and please stop couching yourself as a ‘seattle liberal’ in an attempt to bring credibility to your shilling – you’re anything but.

    • Charles says

      While your presentation is rather crude, I am in general agreement with your points. The “apodments” I’ve seen are of rather poor quality design and construction. But I suppose that is part of the equation. Substitute cheap materials in order to attract a “downscale” tenant in their price range.

      Any planning professionals care to weigh in on if long term viability of a building or its quality of construction are relevant factors in code?

    • David L says

      Waa, waa, sometimes cheap housing looks ugly. That’s what your complaint really boils down to. Of course it looks ugly! It costs money to make things look good.

      Let’s just make sure the alternative your complaint implicitly favors is completely clear: choke off the supply of cheap housing, and make sure that Seattle is only for the well-off. Rowhouses are not an alternative to efficiency apartments. They’re high-end housing, even if subdivided. The only rowhouses that are cheap in rowhouse cities are derelict ones.

  15. joshuadf says

    In a similar vein there is a project going up right now in SLU that’s shaped more like a traditional apartment building but it’s a tiny apartments:
    http://boxcarslu.com/
    Being marketed to Cornish students especially. I’m sure it will be pricier than an apodment but hopefully quite a bit cheaper than a standard unit.

  16. says

    Why not just attack the parking issue head on in the zoning?
    Lets say a building has 40 individual tenants. Require the developer to supply four spots on their property, and have no more than six car owners living in the building. Sure you’ll have visitors, but everyone has visitors.

    Leave the building subject to an audit every so often, with a penalty of $200 per car per month. If we want people to have dense housing without bringing along the cars why not just require it through zoning, which the developer can then pass on through contractual requirements in the lease?

    • David L says

      Seems much less intrusive, and much more fair to new residents, to accomplish the same goal through providing an economic incentive by charging for street parking. You could either expand metering or make neighborhood permits more expensive.

  17. Doug Bostrom says

    “If someone owns two single-family lots in Eastlake, why not let them create a project that will maximize the use of that land, and allow people to live how they choose to? ”

    Sure, as long as the arrangement is draped in iron-clad covenants spelling out what sort of obnoxious neighbors can be instantly booted out, without having to explain to a judge why having not one but twelve louts wearing wife-beaters and shouting “Stella, Stelllaaaa!!” to the Moon at two o’clock in the morning is an undesirable feature in a neighborhood.

  18. Brad Chamberlain says

    I don’t have a problem with apodments per se, if people want them. My main problem is the loopholes in Seattle’s building code that they squeeze through to tear down existing structures and build new ones without any notice posted to a neighborhood or opportunity for a design review (the only real mechanism residents have to try and preserve the character of their streets and value of their own property). If apodment developments were subject to the same review process as other multi-family residential construction projects, I wouldn’t have nearly as much of a problem with them. But on our street, a beautiful older house was torn down with no notice to the neighborhood or chance to view or comment on the design in order to make room for a 40-apodment building that only counts as 8 units because that’s how many kitchens there are. The developer apparently confessed to a neighbor that he took this approach in order to avoid the design review process and any resistance that residents might have for the size and design of his building — great way to start a relationship (or lack thereof) with the neighborhood.

    I also wonder whether apodments will be as popular as their pro-developer/-development proponents claim. While they are cheaper than a “real” apartment, they’re not exactly a bargain ($700/mo for, essentially, a place to lay your head?). I wish we had a few more indicators of their roaring success before we run the risk of creating more than the market will bear, or end up dropping the prices to the point that parts of Capitol Hill return to their reputation of past decades: a great place to flop in a boarding house and shoot up.

    • Nathanael says

      I think the problem is that navigating the Seattle procedure for getting exceptions to the zoning code is SUCH a pain that there are huge incentives to find loopholes. Close one, another will be found.

      In England, from what I can tell, there are no loopholes; every project apparently needs individual approval, period. The side effect is that it’s much easier to get individual approval.

  19. Dale says

    I have lived in 3 different “apodment” buildings that are owned by Calhoun Properties. These are really nice micro-units, well kept, and very well managed. Yes, the space is very small and not for everyone. My unit is about 140 square feet. Also, this is low-cost, affordable housing and NOT low income or subsidized. The quality of tenants is nice and I have never felt save or annoyed by my neighbors. I’ve actually made a few friends because of it. I make a very good living and could easily afford an apartment ten times the size but this works for me. I moved to the city in Feb 2010 from Dallas (originally from Chicago), and this was a great, affordable alternative. I only arrived with my luggage and a few boxes that I shipped UPS. Everything was furnished for me. Also, demand for apodments is VERY high and there is a long waiting list for my building. The savings have been tremendous, as I have saved $500 plus a month because I have to be more conscious of what I buy due space constraints. I literally have to think twice about every purchase I make. Also, by living small, I’m making a huge, positive impact on our environment (reducing my carbon footprint, waste, etc…) Living solo? Definitely consider downsizing to an apodment or similar concept. Well worth it! Apodments, you have saved me a shit load of money! Thank you!

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