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Old 06-06-2012, 04:33 AM   #101
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I live in a condo in a 100 year old house in urban St. Paul MN. I can't say enough about the location and the city. It is the historic district that fell into urban decay in the 60-70s but has been fully reclaimed. At that time many of the mansions were made into apartments, then condos. It was a wonderful decision as it saved them from the wrecking ball. It also allowed people like me, who would never be able to afford one of these houses on my own, to live in the area. Now it is a lovely area with "eye candy" everywhere you walk. I can walk to every possible store or restaurant, with the exception of big box stores like Target, which is more of a bike-ride away. I can easily walk downtown to the theater, the riverfront, churches, city/state offices, and more. There are also numerous bike paths that intersect; it is easy to ride to green spaces, parks, along the Mississippi, etc. Yes, we have long winters but summer is a paradise here, and I walk all year long no matter the weather. Sorry for the gushing but this is my adopted hometown (I"m from Chicago) and I just love it. It is what an urban area should be.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:52 AM   #102
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One of my high school and college friends just retired and moved there from Riverside Drive in Manhattan. He says the same things- that it is wonderful.

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Old 06-06-2012, 09:24 AM   #103
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I load up once a week from a Walmart 2 miles away and thats it. Carrying small bags of shopped items would appear to be a pain to me. Plus it would have to be done more often.
Eh, you grab some pasta and sauce when you walk the dog. You stop by the grocery store when you're walking back from a play or the museum or a movie. It's no big deal when it's literally a few blocks away.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:58 AM   #104
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Interesting article. I agree "walkable" city neighborhoods are becoming more popular. In 2008, we sold our big fringe-suburban home on acreage and moved to downtown Seattle (Belltown). While we're in love with city living, we had little trouble finding a buyer for our old place and nothing is being boarded up. The burbs are doing just fine I think.

I would like to mention for you "I'd love to live downtown except for the noise" folks that noise isn't a given. Except for the occasional siren (which you stop noticing after a while) we never hear a neighbor in our condo. Our building is full of dogs and we never hear them bark. Unlike apartments, many modern condos have tremendous noise proofing.

For those worried about security, I feel safer in my high-rise (with secure entry, secure elevators, and 24/7 concierge) than I did in my country home which was in a great neighborhood. In the country, no one can hear you scream. In the city, one phone call and the fuzz is there in a minute. We've never had a problem downtown despite living in the nightlife district.

I don't mention these things to argue what is better, only to point put that many of my own assumptions about city living (noisy, unsafe, impersonal) have turned out to be wrong.

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Noise at home is not the only issue I would have with noise....

I lived in a high rise in NYC, and like you did not hear the neighbors etc. at all... so home was peaceful... but the second you stepped outside.... you were bombarded with noise... even going to Central Park was not enough to get away from the noise... and there were a LOT of people ALL the time..

Well, I will admit that if you live downtown there were times you could walk outside and not see a single car or person... but that is more the exception....
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:04 AM   #105
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One of the other things that bother me when people talk about biking... to me most places are dangerous to bike... there are no lanes etc. and the people in the cars are not interested in your safety if you are slowing them down...

Same for walking in a lot of places... sidewalks are not big enough for more than one or two people...
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:10 AM   #106
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I live in a condo in a 100 year old house in urban St. Paul MN. I can't say enough about the location and the city. It is the historic district that fell into urban decay in the 60-70s but has been fully reclaimed. At that time many of the mansions were made into apartments, then condos. It was a wonderful decision as it saved them from the wrecking ball. It also allowed people like me, who would never be able to afford one of these houses on my own, to live in the area. Now it is a lovely area with "eye candy" everywhere you walk. I can walk to every possible store or restaurant, with the exception of big box stores like Target, which is more of a bike-ride away. I can easily walk downtown to the theater, the riverfront, churches, city/state offices, and more. There are also numerous bike paths that intersect; it is easy to ride to green spaces, parks, along the Mississippi, etc. Yes, we have long winters but summer is a paradise here, and I walk all year long no matter the weather. Sorry for the gushing but this is my adopted hometown (I"m from Chicago) and I just love it. It is what an urban area should be.
I go to Minneapolis usually once a year just because, but I have never been to the twin sister. If it is like Minny it would be a great place. Being a life long small town rural person, I have to overcome my paranoia (it is totally unjustified,I know) in the big city that every person might be a pocket picker, or and armed robber potentially lurking around the corner. But I do not feel that way in downtown Minny or the nearby districts such as by the Guthrie Theatre. The Nicollet Mall area is awesome, too. My metro area has nothing like that.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:14 AM   #107
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Same for walking in a lot of places... sidewalks are not big enough for more than one or two people...
Sometimes the sidewalks are discontinuous, too, with no way to cross to the other side of the road (especially here with our canals often running down the center).
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:22 AM   #108
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Sometimes the sidewalks are discontinuous, too, with no way to cross to the other side of the road (especially here with our canals often running down the center).

True... forgot about not even having sidewalks... almost all streets around here do not have them. We do not have them in my neighborhood, but almost all of the drivers are OK when in a neighborhood...

Heck, thinking about it, I do not know where there are sidewalks near me... There is a trail along the bayou for kids to get to school, but you do have to walk in the street to get there.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:46 AM   #109
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Since I live here, and have lived here for so long, I really don't know much about hotels. My sister stays at the Renaissance when she comes, she gets some kind of deal there. A flight attendant I knew said her crews always stay at the downtown Sheraton. My ex's Dad stayed there too, and I went to a few conferences there. It is well located, and maybe a bit cheaper than the Renaissance. There are quite a few members on the board who come here frequently; they may be good sources for hotel suggestions. Zero is one person who comes a lot.

About the town homes- google Redfin Seattle. Price so much depends on how the neighborhood is perceived. This thread started out being about urban living, then gentrification, then I don't know what all. Urban living should not be conflated with gentrification, at least in Seattle, where the nice urban neighborhoods have always been more expensive than most suburbs, other than a few upscale ones on the East side of Lake Washington. In recesions the urban neighborhoods hold up, the suburbs go bad. There are these stable, high quality urban neighborhoods. Then there are gentrifying neighborhoods with very good momentum and where I would be willing to bet and live, and other questionably gentrifying ones where I would not be willing to bet or live, and others that I doubt will ever make it in my lifetime anyway. I think access to Link rapid transit is a real plus for one's own use, and it is like getting a warrant on the future. When I went shopping, I got a Link map, with timing, with what was funded and what not yet, etc.

I think in established, well located areas there are pretty nice places from maybe $350k to $850k(usually with view for these expensive ones). For neighborhoods with frequent bus access downtown and little or no issues of "gentrification", look at lower Queen Ann (now called Uptown), First Hill, Capitol Hill, Ballard, farther from downtown but very nice in itself, University District and Ravenna, Green Lake, Fremont. Also really nice, expensive, and having less frequent bus service is Madison Beach (most upscale) and Madison Park. All these have their own character. Capitol Hill and Uptown are closest to downtown-like easy walk from most areas.

The cheapest OK looking town homes are in the areas a bit less far along the gentrifying path, as there are still little bungalows with enough lot that a builder may be able to put together a few and tear them down and build on in front, one in back on a single lot. IMO these suck. There are also nicer town homes that use the whole lot of the teardown, and these are usually at the edges of the well established good neighborhoods. But I think some of these are 5 star, in that the neighborhood change is coming and will not be stopped, yet you can buy a nice place without spending an arm and a leg. Also these are usually in neighborhoods that were once primo, prior to WW2. So the surviving homes are big and pretty, and the trees and such are very pretty.

The only time I looked at townhomes was when I was out on a Sunday with my GF and she wanted to. I like condos and apts better and they are cheaper.

Anything you see on Redfin or elsewhere, pm me and I will be happy to give whatever candid opinion I might have, or I may know nothing. I'm not a real estate guy.


Ha
Thanks for all the info. Redfin has a handy map search that lists neighborhoods that tie to your comments, so that helped.

I need to find a way to get my wife interested in some travel. I think I'd enjoy just walking some of these older neighborhoods and rubber-necking.
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:15 AM   #110
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True... forgot about not even having sidewalks... almost all streets around here do not have them. We do not have them in my neighborhood, but almost all of the drivers are OK when in a neighborhood...

Heck, thinking about it, I do not know where there are sidewalks near me... There is a trail along the bayou for kids to get to school, but you do have to walk in the street to get there.
I think sidewalks were popular to get funded in many old city centers when people had to walk and they were expanded substantially in WPA projects during the depression (in my childhood neighborhood some of the sidewalk slabs were labeled WPA). Post WWII the car was king and many (most?) new suburbs didn't incorporate them because they are costly and were not a marketable feature. Over the last 10-15 years the walkable communities trend has brought them back in many new developments. Still pretty costly to retrofit a neighborhood and taxpayers won't jump for that.
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:18 AM   #111
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I think sidewalks were popular to get funded in many old city centers when people had to walk and they were expanded substantially in WPA projects during the depression (in my childhood neighborhood some of the sidewalk slabs were labeled WPA). Post WWII the car was king and many (most?) new suburbs didn't incorporate them because they are costly and were not a marketable feature. Over the last 10-15 years the walkable communities trend has brought them back in many new developments. Still pretty costly to retrofit a neighborhood and taxpayers won't jump for that.
Interesting, accurate observation (IMO). My 1980's neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, but traffic is so light walking on the sides of the streets is fine. In a more urban area, with more traffic, sidewalks would be necessary (unless bicycles dominate) - it will be interesting to see what the future holds for sidewalks...
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:12 PM   #112
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Interesting, accurate observation (IMO). My 1980's neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, but traffic is so light walking on the sides of the streets is fine. In a more urban area, with more traffic, sidewalks would be necessary (unless bicycles dominate) - it will be interesting to see what the future holds for sidewalks...
My town doesn't have many sidewalks either. In this case today, it was a positive. During morning walk ( in the streets) I noticed a bunch of mail ran over by cars. It looked like the end of shift bell went off for the postal worker and he just chucked the mail out into the streets. I gathered it all up and walked back up the hill 4 blocks to where their houses were at. Two of them thanked me and mentioned it was important mail ( they loved the tire tracks on their mail). The 3rd one appeared to be an old lady's address. The garage door was open but she wouldn't answer. I imagine my appearance in a cut out T-shirt and dirty hat scared her from answering the door so I just dropped it in her mailbox on the porch.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:33 PM   #113
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I think sidewalks were popular to get funded in many old city centers when people had to walk and they were expanded substantially in WPA projects during the depression (in my childhood neighborhood some of the sidewalk slabs were labeled WPA). Post WWII the car was king and many (most?) new suburbs didn't incorporate them because they are costly and were not a marketable feature. Over the last 10-15 years the walkable communities trend has brought them back in many new developments. Still pretty costly to retrofit a neighborhood and taxpayers won't jump for that.

Not sure if that is the same here... the neighborhood where I grew up was built in the late 50s... and there were sidewalks...

The neighborhood where I bought my first house was built in the late 70s early 80s... and also had sidewalks... (funny thing is most people actually walked in the street as a few people would park in their driveway blocking the sidewalk, so it was just easier to be in the street)....

You might be right when it comes to outside neighborhood roads... almost all of the non-neighborhood roads around here do not have sidewalks... at times that is not a problem because you are actually walking from parking lot to parking lot... but there are enough places with no development and high grass that you have to get into the street to walk... (no shoulder)...

But it seems you might be right at other locations... more might chime in...
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:07 PM   #114
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You will have to pry my dead fingers from my .357 magnum leveraction , I won't just go kicking and screaming. The Ponderosa is mine all mine, As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be homeless again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be homeless again.
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:22 PM   #115
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Thought this site might be relevant to this thread:
Get Your Walk Score - Find Walkable Apartments and Rentals


As far as sidewalks... I think that's a regional/cultural thing as well as a "when developed" thing.. I've lived in Southern California, WA state, PA state, and Atlanta....
Newer suburbs near Philly don't have sidewalks... older ones do. I lived in an older suburb, right outside the city... we had sidewalks. My BIL lives near where I worked, 2 miles further out... - no sidewalks. And definitely not walkable. (Also had to drive to SEPTA trains, and no bus service.)

When I lived in Bellingham, WA, there were sidewalks in incorporated cities/towns (B'ham/Lyndon/Ferndale), but not in the unincorporated county. Plus there was no shoulder and ditches - so cycling could be challenging, even though there were plenty of bicyclists.

My neighborhood has a walkscore of 45 - but it's missing several things like a bookstore, some schools, and the local parks. Unfortunately, you have to have a facebook account to add these things and I don't do facebook.

In the San Diego area even the suburbs have sidewalks... only the really rural areas lack sidewalks.

I live in a suburban neighborhood within city limits in San Diego. I feel fortunate to have grocery/restaurants/library within 1/2 mile of my house, and a nice park with a city pool about 1 mile from my house. We walk to these regularly.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:12 PM   #116
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Thought this site might be relevant to this thread:
Get Your Walk Score - Find Walkable Apartments and Rentals
Nice tool for planning a trip. My neighborhood clocks in at 91, some of my old near north Chicago neighborhoods even higher.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:20 PM   #117
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I just tried this site- my place is a 97 according to them. I would like to see what it takes to get 100.

Ha
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:25 PM   #118
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I think "walkable" is relative. I'm out in a suburb, but it is relatively walkable. I can walk to a local playground, two gas stations, the post office, a Cub Foods, and two strip malls with about a dozen businesses. The strip malls include a coffee shop, a Subway, a Burger King, a bad Asian buffett, a Chipolte knock-off, and a haircut place.

I like having the option of walking to a few places, but I also like having the space that the suburb allows.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:29 PM   #119
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my comment on my neighborhoods walkable score was poorly written. I intended to say the walkscore for my neighborhood should be higher because the site missed a bookstore, library, and several parks. I tried to add them but, alas, no facebook account.
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:11 PM   #120
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Thought this site might be relevant to this thread:
Get Your Walk Score - Find Walkable Apartments and Rentals
I use it all the time to evaluate where we might live next, thanks for adding it to the thread.

The Walkscore (on a 0-100 scale where 100 is the ultimate in walkable) for my current address is "0 - Car Dependent." If that's not the definition of fringe suburb, I don't know what is. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...
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