Travis Stiller admits that living in a micro apartment required an adjustment. He had to throw away just about all his possessions, except family heirlooms, which he put in storage. But now he’s happy living in a small space,
“It’s very, very easy and it’s a different kind of lifestyle,” Stiller says.
Stiller lives in Carmel Place, a nine-story building on city-owned land on E. 27th St. that opened three years ago. It was conceived by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration as a test of whether allowing teeny-tiny apartments would help to ease the city’s housing crunch. The 55 micro-units range from 260 to 360 square feet, far smaller than traditional studios.
Rents in about half of the apartments are market rate, which means they can cost as much as $2,850 a month. The rest are considered affordable, and some of them are reserved for homeless veterans.
Everything about these mini-apartments is downsized: the bathroom, the fridge, even the dishwasher are smaller than normal. There’s no oven, just a built-in hotplate.
“It was a very successful pilot and we were able to say, ‘Yes, there is a demand. There is appetite to live in these kinds of units,’” says Molly Park, the deputy commissioner for development at the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The test was so successful, the de Blasio administration wants more of them built. The new units would likely be 100% affordable.
“We are very excited to explore micro units and shared facilities through Share NYC,” Park says.
The city launched Share NYC last year, asking developers to pitch plans for units of 150 to 400 square feet. Residents would share kitchen and some living space, an arrangement known as co-living.
“We’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work, what kind of common space you want to have,” Park says.
The city is not saying yet if, like Carmel Place, the new micro-apartment developments will have a gym, roof deck and clean linens and towels and maid service once a week.
Those living in Carmel Place have some advice for the city and future micro-unit renters:
“You’ve got to get a designer who pays attention to details,” said David Rush. “The fit and finish are so important because these are small units.”
“It’s really good if you live by yourself,” adds Allison Garbarino. “I couldn’t imagine living with someone else in such a tight space.”
“You cannot afford to make a mess in these apartments or you’re living in it,” says Gary Love, who’s been living in the micro-apartment for three years now.
The city is reviewing proposals from developers for hundreds of affordable micro-units and expects to announce which projects will move forward in the fall.