In Walnut Creek, “condominium” is the $1 million word. Literally. Living outside of a major city used to mean trade-offs: longer commute to work, less expensive house; fewer entertainment options, bigger grocery stores. But today, real estate trends in the Bay Area suburb are drawing closer and closer to what a home buyer might expect to see in a larger city, like nearby San Francisco. Downtown Walnut Creek, with its posh performing arts center and sophisticated dining options, is bordering on downright ritzy. Condos are now complete with stunning skyline views, easily walkable distances to amenities and enviable status in spades. Even despite the national housing downturn, Walnut Creek developers haven’t had trouble filling their trendy flats. Just a year and a half after sales started, about 60 percent of the 181 units in The Mercer in downtown Walnut Creek had been sold or were under contract, including 18 of the 23 condos that cost $1 million or more. In all, the downtown area is expected to complete at least 800 condos in the next few years, and many popular complexes are already complete or in process, such as the Iron Horse development and the “green” units on Ygnacio Valley Boulevard. Walnut Creek residents migrating toward the urban mid-rise lifestyle come from a wide range of backgrounds. Many are parents who’ve found themselves recently with an empty nest. The condos are also popular with young professionals and couples who have no children. The consistent thread seems to be a desire to live near shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The San Francisco Chronicle recently dubbed Walnut Creek “hip and happening,” and the soaring demand for urban abodes confirms the changing taste of the Bay Area. Regardless of what prompted the wave of development, though, the message is clear: 1,700 square feet with 24-hour concierge is the new McMansion.