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Filling the Gap: How Merit Homes' Urban Series Brings More Choices to Kirkland

Rein Lot 1 as a Kirkland Cottage

June 3, 2024

Filling the Gap: How Merit Homes' Urban Series Brings More Choices to Kirkland

King County, and particularly Seattle's Eastside (Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond), faces a significant housing challenge: a lack of housing options catering to the "missing middle." This refers to the gap between grand single-family homes and often cramped apartments. Examples of missing middle housing options include duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, cottage-style homes, and ADU-style homes (Accessory Dwelling Units). This crisis forces residents and many workers out of desirable areas and into longer commutes. Throughout the Greater Puget Sound area, Single Family zoning in all jurisdictions makes up the largest area of zoning by far, as opposed to multi-family, commercial or industrial zones. Thus, allowing these alternative housing types within existing Single Family Zoning will provide the greatest impact to create more "missing middle" housing. 

Kirkland exemplifies this challenge (and opportunity). With a thriving job market, top-ranked schools, and a vibrant downtown and waterfront area, it's a highly sought-after place to live. However, the high cost of traditional single-family homes makes homeownership seem out of reach for many.  

Many people would agree that missing middle housing is just one piece of the housing crisis puzzle. Solving this will take a multi-faceted approach to achieve a more balanced housing market. This is where Merit Homes' Urban Series comes in. The Urban Series provides a unique category of housing by utilizing new City of Kirkland zoning code changes: Cottages and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs) designed specifically to offer additional housing choices between traditional single-family homes and apartments. These new construction homes deliver the benefits of homeownership – a sense of community, private space, and the potential for appreciation – at a more accessible price point. The Urban Series offers homes more than $1M less than the typical new home price tag – which is often upwards of $3M+. Unlike apartments, Urban Series homes typically offer two stories with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as outdoor living options, providing more living space for those seeking more square footage. 

The Urban Series not only addresses affordability in the new construction space but also fosters a more diverse and vibrant community in Kirkland. By increasing the availability of missing middle housing, the Urban Series allows a wider range of residents, from young professionals to downsizers, to enjoy the benefits of living in this thriving community. 

Here's a deeper dive into the specifics of the Urban Series: 

  • Variety Within the Series: It's important to note that the Urban Series offers two main types of residences: cottages and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs). Cottages, as defined by Kirkland's zoning code, are detached single-family dwelling units with a gross floor area of 1,700 square feet or less. DADUs, on the other hand, can be up to 1,200 square feet and typically come with some additional restrictions. Regardless of the designation, both offer a comfortable and modern living option. 
  • Focus on Comfort and Sustainability: All Urban Series homes, whether true cottages or DADUs, are designed with comfort and sustainability in mind. Two-story layouts provide ample living space without the sprawl of a traditional single-family home. Furthermore, these homes prioritize a healthy and efficient living environment with all-electric appliances that enhance indoor air quality. Gone are the concerns of gas leaks, as state-of-the-art induction cooktops take center stage. Energy-efficient heat pumps provide year-round comfort with both heating and cooling, while warm and efficient LED lighting keeps things bright throughout. To top it off, all appliances are Energy-Star certified, ensuring long-term energy savings.  

Designed for Modern Living: The Urban Series boasts Merit Homes' signature Northwest Contemporary design with an emphasis on natural elements, functionality, and high-end living. They offer open-concept floorplans, maximizing square footage and fostering a sense of connection within the home. Elevated ceiling heights and abundant windows bathe the interiors in natural light, creating a spacious and airy feel. Many Urban Series homes even feature covered and private outdoor living spaces with privacy fencing – perfect for those who desire a low-maintenance yard for their pets or a place to relax and enjoy the fresh air. 


Catering to Diverse Needs: It's important to acknowledge that not everyone desires a sprawling estate to maintain. The Urban Series recognizes this shift in living preferences. These homes offer a comfortable and stylish alternative for those who appreciate a more manageable living space that still includes up to 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen to entertain in, and a primary suite that lives up to the same standards as Merit’s larger homes. Most plans also offer some private and covered patio area. This can be ideal for young professionals seeking a low-maintenance haven, to downsizers who no longer need the extensive square footage of a larger home, or anyone who prioritizes a more efficient use of space. 

By offering these thoughtfully designed and well-located residences, the Urban Series by Merit Homes plays a crucial role in addressing Kirkland's housing needs. It allows more people to call this desirable city home, fostering a more inclusive and vibrant community. 

 

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