What the Census says about where we live
Madison Park has the reputation of being one of Seattle’s tonier neighborhoods, characterized by an eclectic mix of upscale houses owned and occupied by some pretty well-heeled people. That stereotype is not entirely off base; but even to Madison Parkers it will probably come as a surprise to learn that single-family homes make up less than half of the neighborhood’s total housing units and fully 42% of Madison Park’s residences are actually rentals.
This news, shocking or otherwise, comes from the 2010 U.S. Census and the related American Community Survey for Madison Park (Broadmoor and Washington Park included). While most residents here do live in houses that they own (or at least on which they pay the mortgage), there are plenty of people who live in multi-family structures (both condo and apartment buildings) and a significant number who rent either houses or multi-family units in the Park.
The Census Bureau reports that there are a total of 2,829 housing units within the .9 square miles of Madison Park, an increase of only seven units since the 2000 Census. The number of renter-occupied units for some reason declined in the ten years between the two Census surveys, however, from 1,118 in 2000 to 1,052 in 2010. Nevertheless, this still represents 41.6% of Madison Park’s total housing units. Unfortunately, there is no breakout of what proportions of these rental units are comprised of houses, condos, or apartments.
Census numbers show that the other 1,474 neighborhood residences are owner occupied—and surprisingly (at least to us) 523 of these (35%) are owned “free and clear.” Just to put that particular data point into perspective, we note that the comparable figure for Seattle as a whole is just 10%.
Seattle, by the way, has a total of 308,516 total housing units, so Madison Park represents slightly less than 1% of the City’s total stock of housing. Our 4,962 residents comprised about .8% of Seattle’s population of 608,660 in 2010. In Madison Park, our housing density (the average number of residents per housing unit) is roughly 2, while Seattle’s is almost exactly the same. Even in terms of rental housing, Madison Park is not significantly different proportionally, 42% versus 46% for Seattle overall.
There are 2,526 households in Madison Park, according to Census numbers. Of these, 1,096 households (43%) are comprised of a single person and 1,224 households (48%) are comprised of families (the remainder apparently being households comprised of people who are not related to each other). The number of people occupying rental units was 1,595 (32% of Madison Parkers).
Some of the most interesting housing information for Madison Park is contained in the American Community Survey, which provides estimates for the five-year period, 2007-2011. For example, a breakdown of the age of the housing units in the neighborhood shows that 42% of them were built prior to 1940, 39% were built between then and 1969, and 6% were built in this century. So while construction of new single-family units is picking up, this remains a community with a lot of relatively old housing. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is that new multi-family units are unlikely here. A recent report in the Seattle Times showed this area of town (Madrona and Leschi included) as being the only one where its not expected that any new units will be constructed over the next several years.
In terms of housing types, the Survey estimates that almost half of the housing units in Madison Park are single-family residences. Since houses are more likely to have families living in them than apartment or condo units, it is probable that the majority of Madison Parkers live in houses, owned or otherwise. For some reason, the Census Bureau apparently does not ask that specific question.
As for multi-family housing, the Survey estimates that only 4% of these residences are in buildings with four or fewer units while 26% are in buildings of 20 or more units (the rest of the multi-family residences fall somewhere in between).
In Madison Park, of course, multi-family housing runs the gamut from tiny apartments with relatively modest rents to expansive waterfront condos costing multi-millions of dollars. Information is readily available about condo pricing, which we cover some detail each quarter. Rental information is much harder to obtain. Fortunately, the City will soon be requiring that landlords register their properties. As a result we may discover something more that changes our view of housing in Madison Park.