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Wednesday, January 12,2011

Eye candy! of the week

by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn

Property: 812-818 Eureka St., Lansing


Assessed value: $71,100


Owner: H&H Real Property Management


It might be difficult for our modern sensibilities to believe that at one time communities, like Lansing, had a much greater variety of housing types — not just low-density singlefamily houses and high-density apartment towers, but also mid-density townhouses. Row houses, or townhouses as we call them in the Midwest, are a classic building type characterized by identical houses linked by party walls. These all but disappeared from memory during the urban renewal projects of the mid-20th century.


Or did it? Nestled in the heart of the Eastside Neighborhood is 812-818 Eureka St., an early townhouse development. Four two-story, single-family residences compose this stretch between Hosmer and 8th streets, adding interest and regional charm to the neighborhood. The handsome stone-clad townhouses have been adapted to multiple dwellings as market rate apartments.


Have you noticed all of the townhouse-style dwellings that have sprung up in the past few years? 812-818 Eureka is in good company. From the houses of Printers Row in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood to On the Grand in Old Town and the West Village in East Lansing, townhouses are undergoing a long-awaited revival.


Townhouse, row house, terrace — what's the difference? Townhouses were developed in 17th century Europe. Row houses are speculative two- to three-story dwellings built together with a shared wall. Terraces are simply the late 18th century term for a row house. Whereas a row house or terrace may take up an entire city block such as the Royal Cresent in Bath or Park Cresent, Regent Street in London, townhouses are typically smaller scale.

Attached, townhouse-style housing is practical in urban settings for its cost effective use of space. The Philadelphia Row House was the earliest American townhouse-style dwelling, followed by the brownstones of New York Townhouses. Those were typically developed in response to housing demands and are speculative, which was a very modern idea in the 18th century.

Townhouses are an important housing type because it provides the essential medium-density housing that all too many communities lack. In addition, townhouses are known for their regional character — an all too important element that many apartment developments lack.

Townhouses allow you to have it all — urban living and single-family dwellings without the hassle of yard work or maintenance.

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