Planning for more micro-apartments in NYC

New York City may change its regulations to allow more micro-apartments:

Planning officials are proposing to end a limit on how small apartments can be, opening the door for more “micro-apartments” that advocates see as affordable adaptations to a growing population of single people. Critics fear a turn back toward the city’s tenement past and question whether less space will really mean less expensive…

As an experimental project, Carmel Place got city land and a waiver from New York’s 400-square-foot minimum on new apartments, set in 1987. A proposed elimination of that minimum would allow smaller studios in buildings with a mix of apartment sizes, but entire micro-unit buildings would continue to need waivers...

Forty percent of the units have rents set by affordable-housing programs topping out at around $1,500 a month, but market-rate ones rent for $2,650 to $3,150, roughly on par with many studios in the nearby Murray Hill neighborhood. About 20 people have applied and hundreds requested information for eight market-rate units so far, while over 60,000 have entered a lottery for the affordable ones…

But critics see micro-units as a step backward in the city’s affordable housing crunch – still pricey, just smaller.

The demand for any new housing is high in New York City and a number of other major cities like San Francisco. It seems like the trick with the micro-apartments is that there needs to be thousands of them available in a relatively short amount of time to really address affordable housing otherwise. In contrast, if the units just trickle out (whether from regulatory issues or opposition from nearby residents or apathy from developers), the smaller units will barely make a dent and the prices will stay sky high. It is either all in for micro-apartments or they simply become a unique housing option in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

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