New York City's shoe box-sized apartments are a quintessential part of city living. New Yorkers will pay thousands of dollars a month for a small dingy space, and just kind of live with it.
A new set of small apartments will be much better designed — and all of them will measure under 370 square feet.
Due to open in early 2016, Carmel Place near Kips Bay will be the first official micro-apartment development in New York City.
That doesn't mean these will be the first tiny apartments in the city, however. Thousands of closet-sized apartments were built before the city's 1987 zoning standards, which requires units to be at least 400 square feet. But Carmel Place will be the first micro-apartment development done in partnership with the city.
Planning officials are proposing to do away with the restrictions, but in the meantime, Carmel Place got a zoning waiver from the city's square footage minimum. The development will test whether micro-apartments can be both safe and affordable for New Yorkers.
"It re-imagines the modern day rental apartment and brings a much needed sustainable solution to the city," one of the apartment's designers, Christopher Blesdoe, tells Tech Insider.
The nine-story building will feature 55 micro-apartments, ranging from 260 to 360 square feet. For comparison, the average Manhattan studio is twice that size, and a standard one-car garage is about 200 square feet.Stage 3 Properties
To make the limited square footage more livable, Monadnock Development enlisted the help of nArchitects, the design firm Ollie, Resource Furniture, and Screech Owl designer Jacqueline Schmidt. They meticulously designed a set of furnished units, which they call Ollie.
Ollie, a phonetic wordplay on the phrase "all inclusive," features chic furniture and amenities like WiFi, cable, and weekly visits from a butler through the service Alfred. The butler will make the bed, change the linens, stock the fridge, replenish household staples, and drop off laundry and dry cleaning.
The kitchens are stocked with mini-fridges, two-burner electric stove tops, and a microwave.
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Plants hang from the ceiling so they don't take up precious floor space.
Sliding glass doors open onto a small balcony that lets light into the unit, making it feel less claustrophobic.
The micro-apartments mark a growing shift towards minimalist living. "A reduction of living space does not require a degradation in one's quality of life, but rather can add to it," Blesdoe says.
Residents can customize the space, too. The 10-person dining table can convert into a desk, and the bed turns into a sofa.
If micro-apartment living feels lonely, residents will be able to meet neighbors through Carmel Place's events. The building will host monthly mixers, volunteer activities, day trips, classes, and workshops by guest lecturers.
In late 2016, Blesdoe says Carmel Place will also offer slightly larger micro-apartments for two. The co-living suites will use a new roommate matchmaking system, called Bedvetter. Residents will be able to search for roommates by location or using a compatibility algorithm.
A number of cities around the world are experimenting with micro-apartment living. They're a moderately-priced alternative to expensive housing in places like Seattle and Los Angeles, and exceptionally small 60-square-foot apartments in Shanghai and Hong Kong make New York City's micro-apartments look huge.
Carmel Place's monthly rent is a bit expensive for Kips Bay, ranging from $2,540 for a 265-square-foot studio to $2,910 for a 355-square-foot one bedroom. Other unfurnished studios in the area cost anywhere from $2,300 to $3,200 per month, but for twice the square footage.
It's unclear whether scrapping zoning laws will solve New York City's housing problem. It could potentially make it worse, giving developers the green light to charge a hefty price for even smaller spaces.
But demand for these micro-apartments seems to be high so far. More than 60,000 people want to put their names on a lease.