NYC ‘Micro Apartments’ Could Be Common In The Future

Many know that space is at a premium in New York City, but new so-called “micro apartments” may be taking that idea to a whole new level.

According to CBS News, residents in the Big Apple could be seeing more of these spaces if planning officials get their way. They want to end a limit on how small an apartment can be, thus paving the way for more micro apartments, which some see as an affordable option for single people. However, critics wonder if these smaller places will really be less expensive and are fearful that it will be a turn back to the city’s tenement era.

The nine-story development known as Carmel Place, located at 335 East 27th Street, boasts 55 studio apartments that measure between 260 and 360 square feet. The New York Times calls it the city’s “first micro-unit development.” Monadnock Development, along with the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, is developing the building, which is set to be opened on Feb. 1.

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In the beginning of November, more than 60,000 people applied to live in one of the 14 units, which were made to be affordable. Using a lottery system, the winners will be picked in January.

“It shows the need that people feel for affordable, private space in the city,” said Tobias Oriwol, project developer for Monadnock.

Rent for these NYC “micro” apartments will vary depending on the unit. Eleven of them will cost $950 a month, and three below-market units will be $1,490 a month, according to the New York Daily News. The remaining 32 units will cost $2,650 and $3,150 a month, which will include amenities such as cable, weekly cleanings, and Wi-fi. In addition, one of the apartments will be occupied by the building’s super, and eight are set aside for veterans on Section 8 who were previously homeless.

A typical unit is said to have a long, flat wall with no columns, to give tenants many furniture-arranging options, as reported by CBS News. Some units are said to come with a desk that can expand into a table that can seat 12.

Carmel Place is considered an experimental project and received city land, as well as a waiver on the 400-square-foot minimum on new apartments in New York. If the minimum, which was set in 1987, were eliminated it would allow for a mix of apartment sizes in buildings, along with smaller studios.

“An efficiently designed micro-unit is just a nice apartment,” said Oriwol, who is considering moving into one of the NYC “micro” apartments with his wife from a 600-square-foot unit in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.

Oriwal continued, “They are really well designed. They have a whole bunch of services not usually included.”

Smaller than usual apartments have become more than just a trend in other cities across the county. In September, CNBC reported that a condominium building in Washington D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood had some units that were only slightly larger than 300 square feet.

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An article posted on the British Telecommunications (TB) website begs the question: could the idea of NYC micro apartments could help solve London’s housing problems?

“Londoners, we’ll have to wait and see,” said the website. “But hopefully you’ll be able to afford to move out of your mom and dad’s shed one day.”

Diana Budds, a writer for the website Fast Code Design, describes the Carmel Place “micro” apartments as “a uniquely New York solution,” to the city’s housing problems.

“The takeaways could be applied to other cities struggling with affordability and low vacancy rates,” said Budds. “But is the only solution to housing affordability cramming a family of four into a shoebox?”

Budds also noted that trying to persuade the local government, as well as apartment seekers, to see these NYC “micro” apartments as a viable solution, will take time.

“Positive word-of-mouth from residents—presuming it is indeed positive—will help,” said Budds.

(Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP)