NYC micro apartment
NYC micro apartment could be the new standard of living in the booming city.
According to reports, more than 60,000 people have applied to live in new apartments the size of garages in Manhattan.
Carmel Place, a new development of 55 properties ranging from 265 to 360 square feet, complete with balconies and tall ceilings, is due to open in New York early next year, reports the New York Daily News.
Planning officials are proposing to end a limit on how small apartments can be, opening the door for more micro-apartments that advocates see as affordable adaptations to a growing population of single people.
Critics believe the NYC micro apartment movement could mean a turn back toward the city’s tenement past and question whether less space will really mean less expensive rents.
Carmel Place marks the city’s first experiment of building micro apartments in decades.
‘An efficiently designed micro-unit is just a nice apartment,’ said developer Tobias Oriwol.
As an experimental project, Carmel Place got city land and a waiver from New York’s 400-square-foot micro apartments, set in 1987.
A proposed elimination of that minimum would allow micro apartments in buildings with a mix of apartment sizes, but entire micro-unit buildings would continue to need waivers.
‘For us, it was really important to demonstrate how small space could be an enhancement to quality of life,’ said Christopher Bledsoe of Stage 3 Properties, which designed the interiors and amenities at Carmel Place.
Apartment walls without columns maximize furniture-arranging options, although some units come furnished with fold-out wizardry, including a desk that expands into a 12-seater table and a retractable bed that pulls down tidily over a love seat.
Real estate developer Monadnock Construction and architecture firm Architects worked inch-by-inch to meet such requirements as a wheelchair-accessible bathroom within the small space.
According to a report from the New York Post, forty per cent of the units have rents set by affordable-housing programs topping out at around $1,500 a month, but market-rate ones can cost between $2,650 and $3,150.
About 20 people have applied for eight market-rate units so far, while more than 60,000 have entered a lottery for the affordable ones.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan says Carmel Place and other projects show ‘developers can build compact units that are livable, safe, healthy’ options for small households.
NYC micro apartment Not A New Concept
Building a NYC micro apartment is not exactly new. Veteran appraiser Jonathan Miller estimates there are about 3,000 older apartments citywide that measure less than the 400-square-foot minimum.
Many sales agents say New York’s young professionals are increasingly seeking small studios, willing to sacrifice space to be near work and away from roommates.
Other cities around the country have approved similar building project that allow micro apartments.
Cities from San Francisco to Boston have approved some micro-apartments in recent years, seeking to address housing squeezes in a nation where 28 per cent of households are people living alone, up from 13 per cent in 1960.
It is higher in some cities including New York, where about a third of households are single people.
Micro apartments haven’t always been welcomed. A micro boom in Seattle spurred complaints from neighbors and new regulations last year.
Still, some housing advocates see micro apartments as improvements on cramped quarters some people endure in shared apartments.
‘People are spending $1,800 a month renting a room [in New York] that’s 10-by-10 and living with strangers that they met on Craigslist,’ said Sarah Watson, deputy director of the Citizens Housing Planning Council, an advocacy group.
Other critics see micro-units as a step backward in the city’s affordable housing crunch – still pricey, just smaller.
‘It just, on some level, is offensive: The only way we can manage to house people is to stick them in a closet,’ said state Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat who knows the limits of living small herself.
She and her spouse live in an apartment that measures a little more than 400 square feet. But they moved in together only after acquiring a more spacious weekend home.
‘There was no way two lives could reasonably exist in the space that we have,’ Glick said. ‘We get along extremely well, but we do have a safety valve.’
Last year, students at the Savannah College of Art & Design, showcased micro-housing as the answer to many urban population and affordability problems, with experimental 135-square-microhomes in Atlanta.
With single-person households making up 26.7 percent of the U.S. total in 2010, compared with 17.6 percent in 1970, according to Census Bureau data, there is a growing demand for smaller homes. In cities, the proportion is often higher: in New York, it’s about 33 percent.
But premium city-center locations aren’t growing in size – at least not to the same degree. So the answer seems to be to divide the available space into ever-decreasing lots.
Many micro home fans agree that a major draw of micro-housing is the location – the proximity to a city’s cultural hubs make the sacrifice of space worthwhile.
‘In the foreseeable future, this trend will continue,’ says Avi Friedman, a professor and director of the Affordable Homes Research Group at McGill University’s School of Architecture. A growing number of people are opting to live alone or not to have children, he told Bloomberg. Among this group, many choose cities over suburbs to reduce reliance on cars and cut commute times. ‘Many people recognize that there is a great deal of value to living in the city,’ he says.
Several municipalities are waiving zoning regulations to allow construction of smaller dwellings at select sites. In November, San Francisco reduced minimum requirements for a pilot project to 220 square feet, from 290, for a two-person ‘efficiency’ unit.
In Boston, where most homes are at least 450 sq. ft., the city has approved 300 new units as small as 375 sq. ft. With the blessing of local authorities, a developer in Vancouver in 2011 converted a single-room occupancy hotel into 30 ‘micro-lofts’ under 300 sq. ft. Seattle and Chicago have also green-lighted micro-apartments.