Quiz: How Many Stories Constitute a 'Residential Tower'?

Sure, it's a subjective question. Where I live, it's anything taller than four stories, at least in the local media's eyes. But from a real estate perspective, there really is a minimum number, and they are being built in record numbers in the U.S.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 29, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Conor Dougherty writes from Minneapolis where he describes one of two new luxury residential high-rises set to open in downtown in August. The Nic on Fifth, a "26-story apartment building that sits smack on a light-rail stop and boasts amenities like a pool deck and a private dog park," is representative of what is becoming increasing more common throughout the U.S. (though I'm not sure how many of these towers can boast private dog parks).

For more information on this transit oriented development, see "The Nic on Fifth Brings Luxury Living to Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall" by The Opus Group.

Axiometrics, a Dallas apartment-research firm, defines a tower as 15 stories or more, writes Dougherty.

This year, some 74 rental towers are on pace to be completed, and there are 81 on the books for 2015—the highest number since at least the 1970s. At the same time, strong apartment rents and sluggish demand for office space have resulted in some high-rise buildings being converted to apartments. [See chart showing 2005-2015 data].

Dougherty writes that while the high-rise residential towers are more likely to be built in "denser and pricier markets like San Francisco, New York and Chicago, (b)ut in percentage terms, the increase has been most dramatic in smaller cities like Minneapolis, which is building apartments, including high-rise apartment buildings, at the fastest pace in decades."

"It's the Manhattanization of America and it's happening in cities that never had rental high rises," says Mark Humphreys, chief executive of Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners Architects, which specializes in apartments and condominiums.

Going back to the suburban cities that I'm familiar with in the Bay Area, residential opponents, even judges at times (e.g. Redwood City, Calif.) would appear to decry almost any multi-family new development, regardless of its height, as a symbol of the "Manhattanization" of their city. Could that loaded term be taking on a new, more positive meaning?

Saturday, April 26, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal - U.S. News

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Arizona Canal

HUD Grants Total $315 Million for Continuum of Care for the Unhoused

An unprecedented federal grant program, announced earlier this month, will support continuum of care for the unhoused in unsheltered and rural settings.

31 minutes ago - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

Rendering of landscaped street with street trees and pedestrian sidewalk

South L.A. Complete Streets Project Back on Track

First proposed in 2015, the Broadway-Manchester redesign would add bike infrastructure, pedestrian improvements, trees, and other amenities.

February 7 - Urbanize LA

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.