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Developers asked to test ‘micro-units’

Developers asked to test ‘micro-units’

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 9:03 pm
By: By SAMANTHA GROSS Associated Press

By SAMANTHA GROSS
Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Maybe it’s the urban dwelling of the future: studio apartments measuring no more than 300 square feet.
New York City planners believe the tiny units could be the answer to a growing population of singles and two-person households. And in a nation that’s becoming increasingly populous and increasingly urbanized — and where people more frequently are creating a family of one — such downsizing may not stop here.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week invited developers to propose ways to turn a Manhattan lot into an apartment building filled mostly with what officials are calling “micro-units” — dwellings complete with a bathroom, built-in kitchenette and enough space for a careful planner to use a fold-out bed as both sleeping space and living room.
If the pilot program is successful, officials could ultimately overturn a requirement established in 1987 that new apartments here be at least 400 square feet.
City planners envision a future in which the young, the cash-poor and empty nesters flock to such small dwellings — each not much bigger than a dorm room.
In a pricey real estate market where about one-third of renter households spend more than half their income on rent, it could make housing more affordable.
Manhattan is the U.S. capital of solo living, with 46.3 percent of households consisting of one person, according to the 2010 census. City officials estimate that 76 percent of residents on the island live alone or with one other person — and such households are growing faster around the city than any other type of living situation. Officials attribute the trend in part to young professionals delaying both marriage and childbearing.
Around the country, more people are living alone than ever before. The solo living rate rose to almost 27 percent in 2010, according to the census.
In New York City, where long working hours can leave little time for home life, renters often sacrifice square footage to save money. The size of city apartments has been lampooned on television, with at least one sitcom showing characters living — literally — in a closet.
Some New Yorkers, desperate for storage space and uninterested in the finer points of homemaking, turn their ovens into storage for clothes or other items.
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Associated Press writers Mike Schneider in Orlando, Fla., and Garance Burke in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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