Think studio apartments in New York City are already too small? Well, it looks like things are about to get a lot smaller.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday launched adAPT NYC (APT stands for apartment. Get it?), a new design competition with the aim of improving and increasing the number of single-occupant apartments available in the city. Using a city-owned site located at 335 East 27th St. in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, the city has issued a Request for Proposals for the design of a rental building consisting entirely (or nearly so) of specially designed “micro-units” — that is, units from 275 to 300 square feet. The current legal minimum for newly constructed apartments is 400 square feet; the use of city-owned property allows the mayor to waive the regulation through a technicality.
Why try to build more tiny apartments? Affordability. You don’t need to be an economist to know how expensive or difficult it is to live in New York for single individuals. Studio and single-occupant apartments are highly limited: There are only a million throughout a city with nearly two million singles. And roommates aren’t a feasible solution for everybody.
With demand for housing in the nation’s largest city, Bloomberg believes that “we must develop a new, scalable housing model that is safe, affordable and innovative to meet their [new residents’] needs.” For Bloomberg and many in his administration, “develop housing that matches how New Yorkers live today is critical to the City’s continued growth, future competiveness and long-term economic success.” We wouldn’t want to lose talent to cheaper housing in New Jersey, would we?
And how would new landlords feel about this? The proposed building, when comprised of these new “micro-units,” would allow for 88 new apartments — nearly double what the building would hold if it were to have normal-sized apartments. So while each new unit would be much cheaper, landlords would not lose out, as they could make up the difference by renting out more units.
The adAPT NYC effort is a part of Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a multi-billion dollar scheme with the aim of creating upwards of 165,000 affordable units by the end of 2014.