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Noodling on Malden 8

By November 2, 2011

Our townhouse-hunting reader visited Malden 8 over the weekend and kindly shared a few photos and impressions of the place. As you can see, much progress has been made since I snapped a few photos in July. The townhouses are still on track for an estimated completion date of Feb 2012 and prices are still not set although they are expected to be in the $600K range.

From our reader:

My impression is that the price point seems high, but I understand that some of the units have a garage, and they are close to 15th so the location may yield a higher price tag.  However, the townhomes feel right up against each other (it would be impossible for two cars to pass each other in the driveway entrance), and all you can really see from the rooftop deck is the other rooftop decks (all at exactly the same level).  From the rear units, your view is the back of several dilapidated houses that are within spitting distance.

When asked for my own thoughts, of course I had a few to share — mostly, thumbs up to modern-style townhouses! — in addition to this response:

  • “They’re too close together.” Anytime there’s more than a row of 2-3 townhouses in a development then it is common to see comments that the units are all too close together. Probably because it is more than just sharing walls with your neighbors but you actually look at them too. Personally, I had the same reaction when I toured the Highbury and I know I saw similar comments from Matt about Twenty Five on the Park when he toured those. I think that’s just how that’s going to be for a larger development and you have to decide if you are okay with it or not.
  • “You have views of your neighbors deck.” This seems like a non-issue to me because there are workarounds: either through architectural solutions such as placing the stairway/doors in the middle to provide a level of privacy (Highbury did a little of that but it doesn’t appear like Malden 8 did) or bring in landscaping to do that for you.
  • “Back units look onto older houses.” If your priority is location, then a few older houses nearby might be what you have to accept. However, if those residences promote unwanted activities (and I have no knowledge that this is the case here) then that is something to take into consideration. It is also possible that those old houses might eventually get replaced with newer construction at some point. Both issues might be worth researching if you’re an interested buyer.
  • “Price seems high.” In terms of price, $600’s is on the high end for new construction townhouses on Capitol Hill. However, I believe the square footage on these is also higher so the price per square foot might actually be comparable. The location is pretty prime as you mention and if the design and finishes support that price point (ie. appliances, fixtures, floors, built green, or whatever) then it might very well be a fair mark. That said, demand could have an influence on what they ultimately sell for as well.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have extensive data to share on townhouse demand (or supply) but here’s what I can point to on Capitol Hill:

  • Highbury’s 10 units have been on the market for nearly a year now and still have units available. The development is in a fairly good location on the hill (13th Ave E and John), has similar “close neighbor” challenges, and is marketed at $348/sf for 1,100-1,400 sf after a round of price reductions earlier this year.
  • The gProjects row of 3 townhouses on 18th sold out prior to completion for an average price of $348/sf for 1,500+ sf. And as we noted over the weekend, their 4-unit project on Grandview only has one unit left.
  • In the past year, townhouses have sold for an average of $313/sf (new construction + resales) and the highest-priced sale was that awesome one on Lakeview with the uber industrial kitchen ($396/sf for 1,800+ sf).

And that’s what I’ve got. Hopefully I’m not comparing apples to oranges here. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts from others that play in this space.