South King County

Thanks to the affordable housing and spectacular parks and water views, families are flocking to the south end of the county infusing new life into such towns as Kent, Des Moines and Renton. In fact, local residents like to call SR 509, which connects Burien to downtown Seattle, the "Secret Highway." With much less traffic congestion than I-5, it's an attractive amenity for this town that lies south of Seattle. Another attraction: The City of Burien, along with a developer and the King County Library System, is investing $200 million in a dramatic downtown revitalization effort, Burien Town Square. The first stage of the complex--consisting of a performance center, a new city hall, a library, shops, a park and residential space--comes online this year. Elsewhere, the older business area of Burien offers some charming small shops, ethnic eateries such as Mick Kelly's Irish Pub, Pho Five Star and Taste of Fiji Indian and the definite sense of a bygone era before malls ruled the earth. Houses range from larger places with saltwater views to midcentury classics and plain vanilla tract-style abodes. But with its excellent access downtown and growing amenities, Burien is likely to become more dear in the coming years.

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