35-units of family-friendly housing, developed by families for families

A deliberative development disrupts the multifamily housing market with an alternative model of family living in Seattle.

Seattle has a family housing problem
Over 81% of units constructed in Seattle since 2012 are one-bedroom or smaller.  Just over 1% of new units have three bedrooms or more.  In that same period, New York built 30% more family-sized units than Seattle; San Francisco built twice as many.  Considering Seattle just set a record for median home prices and more than 40% of homes sold today are over $1,000,000, suffices to say that Seattle is no longer feasible for most families.  This partly explains why we are leading the country in number of mega-commuters, (>90 minutes, each way), as more families head for the suburbs to find affordable housing.  But suburban living in the Seattle Metropolitan area is among the costliest in the country, barely more affordable than urban living over a 30-year period.  So not only are families falling behind financially but longer commutes and work hours mean that families are not spending family time together.  And here’s why that’s a problem: decrease in meaningful parental connection is directly correlated with child health and wellness, leading to poor school performance, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and other problematic emotional or physical behaviors.

There is a groundswell of young families and empty-nesters searching for alternative housing options, creating an opportunity to design and develop better ways of living together within city limits.

One collection of friends and families is creating a new model of family-oriented housing called the Shared Roof Project at the corner of 70th & Greenwood in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood.  Ten households have pooled their resources and are developing a communal apartment building.  From afar, the Shared Roof Project appears to be like any other institutional, mixed-use residential development, but it’s distinct in two very specific ways.  First, it will provide a majority of family-sized units, including two-, three-, and even four-bedroom units.  Second, the people developing it will also live in it as long-term renters.  Of the 35 units, 10 will be tenanted by the owners and their families, living collaboratively in a custom designed multi-family apartment building.  The rest of the units will be open to the market, including some dedicated for affordable housing.  And since the owners plan to raise their families there, they’re willing to invest in higher quality materials, more advanced sustainability features, and a whole strategy around sharing resources that fosters community among neighbors in ways that typical institutional developers don’t care to manage.

FIX’s Role
The owners hired FIX to project manage development from initial visioning through to construction and project delivery, including facilitation of design and amenity strategies, securing a contract rezone with voluntary affordable housing, and overall project management.  Johnston Architects is the architect; Site Workshop landscape design; Anderson Construction is the general contractor.  The project is scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2018.

ClientThe Shared Roof Project
Size21,000 SF of land
35 residential units
10,000 SF retail courtyard
Location70th & Greenwood, Seattle
Program4 floors of residential over retail
RoleVisioning & design strategy
Project management
Construction management
Capitalization support
ImpactHousing: 25% of units reserved for tenants earning 60-80% AMI