Town houses, condos spring up in Winslow

When Sher Landrum bought her home on Bainbridge Island 15 years ago, she paid less than $150,000 for the three-bedroom, two-bath house within a mile of the Seattle ferry.

If you tell a current homebuyer this, be sure to have tissues handy. This is just the kind of information that will make them want to weep.

A crop of condo and town-house developments are springing up around Winslow, the island's fast-growing hub.

Prices at the yet-to-be-completed projects start at about $350,000 for a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom condo at Harbor Square, a mixed-use development that includes 180 units.

From there, prices rise steadily up to $1 million or more for a three-bedroom, three-bath town house.

Just steps from the ferry terminal and a national marketing campaign to drum up sales, the Harbor Square development has pre-sold more than 95 percent of its units.

Winslow's other new developments have similar price tags.

Vineyard Lane and Madrone Village are both close to completion, each offering 45 to 50 new units that include a mix of condos and town homes.

The Vineyard Lane development also offers seven cottages ranging from 1,550 to 2,000 square feet with prices from the mid-$500,000s to high $600,000s.

Older condominiums can be found for lower prices, but a location close to the ferry consistently boosts desirability.

The median price of a home on Bainbridge Island was $685,000 in July, up 25.4 percent from a year earlier, according to figures compiled by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Catering to Seattle commuters is one reason for the dense building in Winslow; another is island residents' desire to keep growth contained.

Besides Winslow, three other areas of the island have been scheduled for denser growth.

Projections are already in place for 80 condos and town homes to be built in Lynwood Center, near the south part of the island.

In the other two areas, Island Center and Rolling Bay, a focus on constructing single-family homes is expected.

The hope among residents is that concentrating growth into a few chosen areas will allow the rest of the island to keep a more rural character.

"It used to be that dogs could sleep out in the street and the cars would just drive around them," says Don Rooks, a real-estate agent and 16-year Bainbridge resident.

"That still happens on some parts of the island, but it's certainly not as common as it used to be."

While dogs might not snooze so safely in the streets, much of Bainbridge could still be described as sleepy.

With 22,500 people living on 28 square miles of land — more than 1,200 acres of which have been set aside in parks and preserves — there's still quite a bit of room to relax in.

There's also plenty to rest the eyes on.

Residents mention the island's beauty as one of its most compelling attractions.

And for those who commute, the ease of getting into and out of Seattle is also appealing — especially the getting out part.

Says Landrum of her evening ride back to the island: "I can't wait to get off the ferry and come home. I just love it here."

A waterfront trail that connects to a boardwalk through marinas in Eagle Harbor is an alternative walk to or from the ferry dock. (HARLEY SOLTES / THE SEATTLE TIMES, 2004)
Winslow at a glance


Schools: Bainbridge Island is served by the Bainbridge Island School district.

Distance to downtown Seattle:10 miles/35 minutes by ferry

Recreation: Bloedel Reserve — 150 acres, including 84 acres of second-growth forest. Fay Bainbridge State Park — 17-acre marine camping park on the northeast corner of the island. Fort Ward State Park — 137-acre marine park on Rich Passage.

Fun fact: In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine named Bainbridge Island the second-best place to live in the United States.