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Micro-Housing on the Rise in New York City

02/10/2016

Due to growing demand, more micro-housing may soon be developed in New York City. These unique Manhattan apartments feature tall ceilings, ample storage space, dishwashers, and small balconies. However, everything is contained within 360 square feet or less.

Quality Living on a Budget

The number of people on a tight budget wanting to live in New York City has skyrocketed, which is one reason that more micro-housing units are needed. Currently, there is a limit of 400 square feet of living space within the city, but this may be lifted. If that happens, a door of opportunity opens for developing more micro-housing apartments. For the growing single population, these small apartments offer adequate space while being affordable.

While many people are in favor of more micro-apartments, some have concerns that this will cause the progression of New York City to reverse. There is also concern about the small space actually being more affordable. Marking the first experiment in decades, the Manhattan Carmel Place is comprised of very small apartments. As expressed by developer Tobias Oriwol, these units are efficiently designed and nice.

Carmel Place, which is set to open soon, features 55 small apartments that range between 265 and 360 square feet. To gain a better understanding of size, a standard one-car garage is around 200 square feet. Having additional space shows that a small size doesn’t mean an insufficient amount of space.

Carmel Place

For the experimental Carmel Place to proceed, developers had to obtain a waiver to a law set down in 1987 that states the minimum size of apartments allowed in New York City is 400 square feet. Eliminating that minimum requirement would mean micro-apartments could be developed in the same building as standard-size apartments without needing a waiver. For buildings comprised solely of micro-apartments, the waiver would still be mandated.

Christopher Bledsoe of Stage 3 Properties, which designed both the amenities and interiors at Carmel Place, stressed the importance of showing people how small space can enhance quality of life. Working side-by-side, architects and developer Monadnock Construction designed long, flat walls without columns for maximizing furniture-arranging options.

In addition to some micro-apartments being furnished with fold-out options, the architects and developer ensured that the micro-housing apartments were compliant with wheelchair-accessible bathroom requirements.

Of the micro-units, 40 percent have rents set by affordable housing programs, capping at $1,500 per month. Compared to many studio apartments in New York City, which rent for $2,650 to $3,150 in the nearby neighborhood of Murray Hill, the cost savings is obvious. So far, 20 people have applied to rent a Carmel Place micro-apartment, while hundreds more have requested information. In addition, more than 60,000 people have entered a lottery for the more affordable units.

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