Big Apple promotes tiny apartments
Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:00 am
By: ULA ILNYTZKY Associated Press
By ULA ILNYTZKY
NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Neuman jokes that he doesn’t casually throw off his coat when he gets home at night — it would take up half his apartment.
Such is life in his walk-up studio a few blocks from Manhattan’s bustling Times Square, which at 280 square feet is barely the size of a one-car garage, with just enough space for a bed, a desk, a TV stand on one wall and a kitchen against the other.
“I’ve developed this weird Stockholm Syndrome, which you identify with your captors,” said the 31-year-old publicist. “When I go to other people’s apartments, I think, ‘Why do they need more than one bedroom?’ I’m really very happy here. There’s not really time to let things accumulate because … where would I put them?”
The Big Apple is legendary for its legions of residents who live in really, really small apartments.
Many of them are fiercely proud of it and can even find the humor in their cramped quarters.
Now the city is about to see just how small New Yorkers are willing to go.
With the population and rents expected to keep climbing, New York City planners are challenging architects to design ways to make it tolerable — even comfortable — to live in dwellings from 350 square feet to as small as 250 square feet.
The city wants to incorporate those designs into an apartment complex to be built on Manhattan’s east side next year featuring mostly “micro units.”
The aim is to offer more such tiny apartments throughout the city as affordable options for the young singles, cash-poor and empty nesters who are increasingly edged out of the nation’s most expensive real-estate market.
If the pilot program is successful, New York could ultimately overturn a requirement established in 1987 that all new apartments be at least 400 square feet.
Smaller living is a concept already endorsed by some cities.
San Francisco recently approved construction of apartments as small as 220 square feet.
Tokyo and Hong Kong have long offered tiny units.
As a way to get New Yorkers to think small, the Museum of the City of New York is opening an exhibit featuring a fully furnished 325-square-foot studio apartment that incorporates the latest space-saving designs.
There’s the bed that folds out over a couch, a padded ottoman containing four nesting chairs, a fold-out dinette table tucked neatly under the kitchen counter and a TV that slides away to reveal a bar.
Neuman was amazed at how much more spacious and airy the demonstration apartment felt than his own flat.
“If they hooked up the cable and plumbing, I’d move in tomorrow,” Neuman said during a walk-through of the exhibit with a reporter.
“You could actually have a cocktail party in there without it feeling like the subway at rush hour.”