Cities across the country are contending with housing affordability issues, especially in regions with booming tech economies where high-paid newcomers bid up rent and home prices. The phenomenon has led a growing group of entrepreneurs to create alternative housing options to serve urbanites feeling the squeeze.
That’s the mission of Common, a New York-based company that operates apartment buildings with shared spaces and amenities. Today, Common announced its entry into the Seattle market with two new buildings in the city’s urban core.
Common is now running a 112-room building in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood called Common Terry and a 49-room building in Capitol Hill called Common Summit. Common members get a private room with its own bathroom and kitchenette, attached to shared, furnished living spaces and kitchens. Rent for bedrooms in both buildings average about $1,600 per month.
“Seattle has been on Common’s radar for a long, long time,” said Brad Hargreaves, the company’s CEO. “I think the city is ready to embrace the flexible, efficient, and community-driven values that Common is all about. These homes are a huge opportunity to address the fundamental supply and demand issues in a vibrant city with great cultural attractions, public transportation, and dynamic residents.”
It might seem like a stretch to call a $1,600 room in a shared living space “affordable” but it’s all relative. Seattle’s median rent price is $2,350 according to the latest Zillow data. Hargreaves also noted that some units in Seattle will rent for $1,005. Rent at Common buildings includes weekly cleaning of shared spaces and wifi.
Common and competitors like San Francisco-based Starcity are often referred to as adult dorms because of the shared living spaces and community events and activities. Hargreaves isn’t crazy about the dorm comparison.
“I prefer retirement community for the young,” he told GeekWire before Common announced its Seattle expansion.
Common partnered with Seattle-based Anew Apartments on both buildings, which were originally developed as microunits. Anew will retain ownership of the homes with Common acting as a property manager. The company is also developing an online community portal for networking and notifying residents about community events.
Common has buildings in New York City, the Bay Area, Chicago, and Washington D.C. and is planning an expansion to Miami. Seattle is now Common’s second-largest city, in terms of residents, after New York. The company raised a $40 million Series C funding round in December; investors include Norwest Venture Partners, 8VC, and Seattle-based Maveron.