'Micro' apartments plan for cramped NYC living

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 00:00

Cramped and expensive is how Manhattan property is usually described – and it seems units are about to get smaller.

New York City is getting its first official “micro apartments” after mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the winning design of the “My Micro NY” initiative.

The space-optimising competition attracted 33 entries since its announcement last July. The selected design – by Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corp and nArchitects – will be built in Murray Hill at 335 East 27th Street, the first Manhattan building made from prefabricated “building blocs”.

The end result will be 55 apartments around 9ft tall with balconies, overhead loft space and comprising just 275-300sq ft.

Nicholas Lembo, president of Monadnock, said the developer paid the city $500,000 (€375,000) for the land, and estimated the cost of construction at about $15 million.

“We’ve chosen Manhattan because more than three-quarters of its homes are one- or two-person households,” said Mr Bloomberg

This week he unveiled the “Micro” winner at the Museum of the City of New York, where an exhibit showcasing outside-the-box housing designs, including a sample life-size micro-unit, is on display.

Housing shortage

“We already have the population seeking housing for a small number of people – we just don’t have the apartments to house them,” the mayor added.

There are almost two million one- and two-person households in the city, twice as much as available studios and one-bed apartments.

“More than half of the globe lives in cities, and this project keeps with the trend of growing city life,” says Graham Hill, an environmentalist and entrepreneur whose project was shortlisted for the contest.

The tiny apartments – they’re about the size of two parking spaces – are getting a special exemption from city rules that require most newly built apartments to be at least 400sq ft.