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Terrific Townhouses Take Lowly Urban Living Into the New Millenium

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The concept of the townhouse, the original urban residences of the American bourgeoisie, has been spoiled by the recent construction of shoddily built knock-offs. But if the listing of a $90M Manhattan townhouse is anything to go on, the market for those old-money greats is still going strong. A few price points down, the wealthy still see some benefit in being close to the street, but with the flavor of suburbia in a townhouse's multi-level layout and gardens. We found five that exemplify the benefits of townhouse living: space, style, and grandeur.

While the townhouses are most common on the East Coast, the geographically cramped peninsular city of San Francisco also has a love affair with them. This one (above), located in the coveted neighborhood of Russian Hill, is a green-living alternative to the traditional townhouse. The home is LEED Platinum certified, but doesn't skimp on the luxe features. The open plan and walls of glass showcase stellar views of San Francisco Bay, but we don't know what to make of the limited number of bedrooms—just three—for $7M.

? In NYC, this 28-foot wide Greenwich Village house was recently renovated and showing just began March 30. The buyer pool for $28.5 downtown townhouses isn't huge, but this place is done to the nines, with a combination of restored detail and modern layout that makes for a gratifying mix. There's plenty of space in the 9,000 square feet for some features rarely found in NYC, like a 1,000-bottle wine cellar, a screening room, and stepped terraces that lead from the garden to the fourth floor.

? Further north, in Boston, the pattern of urban development led to the building of hundreds of townhouses in what is now the Back Bay neighborhood. 15 Commonwealth Avenue is one of the finest examples, measuring more that 50 feet across with interior detailing that rivals the most gaudy of William Randolph Hearst creations. Luckily time heals all garishness—and a muted color palette certainly helps—because this massive mansion is asking $15.9M. Too steep? The next buyer could always rent out a few of the 13 parking spaces.

? The DC neighborhood of Georgetown is rife with Federal-style townhouses, but not too many that stand detached from their surroundings. This $3.5M number has an elegantly landscaped front yard, tall parlor windows, and four bedrooms. In this company, it's looking like a bargain. Plus, there's central air conditioning for those scorching DC summers.

? Finally, we get to the Windy City, where, apparently, space reigns supreme. The listing doesn't reveal much in the way of description for this $3.95M Federal home, but the stats are as impressive as that stately facade—11,000 square feet, six bedrooms, and 7.5 bathrooms—the photos offer peeks at a spacious chef's kitchen and a luxe master bath.
· Here's What a $90M Manhattan Mansion Actually Looks Like [Curbed National]
· Contemporary Living [Sotheby's]
· 47 West 9th Street [Stribling]
· 15 Commonwealth Avenue [Otis and Ahern]
· 3332 O Street NW [Sotheby's]
· 461 W Superior Street [Sotheby's]