New York City, NY, USA

Are Small Apartments About to Get Smaller?

New York's first micro-unit housing project would feature a 55-unit building with apartments ranging from 250 to 370 square feet.

Image Source: NYC Mayor’s Office The micro-unit project would be the city’s first prefab construction building.

New Yorkers are no strangers to tiny living spaces, and the standard for “small” apartments may be about to get even smaller. In an attempt to provide more affordable housing to one- and two-person households, the Bloomberg administration is on a crusade to introduce the city’s first micro-unit housing: a 55-unit building with apartments between 250 and 370 square feet. The pilot project, called adAPT NYC, passed a hurdle when it was approved by the City Planning Commission earlier this month. It now enters a months-long public vetting process that includes scrutiny from the community board and City Council. The housing would be an exception to current code that requires all apartments measure at least 400 square feet.

So what exactly would such small-scale living look like? Designed by nARCHITECTS, the proposed building would be located at a city-owned site at 335 East 27th Street. Units feature 9- to 10-foot ceilings and Juliette balconies, and kitchens come equipped with pull-out pantries and full-height fridges. Common spaces include a rooftop garden and lounge areas on most floors, plus a laundry room, storage room, bike room and gym. Rents for affordable housing units, which comprise 40 percent of the building, range from $940 to $1,800. It would also be the city’s first modular construction building, with prefab modules built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

New York isn’t the first city to consider micro-unit housing. San Francisco just began renting its first micro-unit apartments, and Boston isn’t far behind. Based on the divisive reactions micro-units generated in those cities, adAPT will likely encounter some opposition here. Naysayers argue that it could lead to overcrowding and an overall rise in rental rates. Supporters, however, call it an ideal solution for tenants who are getting priced out of Manhattan studios — according to Streeteasy, the median rent and size for Manhattan studios is $2,450 and 500 square feet.

Would you be able to live in 300 square feet? Take a look at the photos and decide for yourself.

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