New York Seeks Design for ‘Micro-Unit’ Apartment Building

New York City is seeking proposals for the design of a “micro-unit” apartment building in Manhattan as part of a program to address a shortage of studio and one-bedroom rentals.

The project calls for a building composed primarily of apartments measuring 275 to 300 square feet (26 to 28 square meters), smaller than what is allowed under current regulations, according to a statement today from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office. The mayor will waive zoning regulations to test the housing model at a city-owned site in the Kips Bay neighborhood.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is issuing a request for proposals through a program called the adAPT NYC Competition, aimed at accommodating demand for smaller homes. New York City has about 1.8 million one- and two-person households, and only 1 million studio and one-bedroom apartments, according to the statement.

“Developing housing that matches how New Yorkers live today is critical to the city’s continued growth, future competitiveness and long-term economic success,” Bloomberg said in the statement.

Manhattan rental prices have climbed in the past year across all home sizes. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment increased 4.3 percent to $2,065 in May from a year earlier, while rates for a one-bedroom home rose 4.8 percent to $2,810, according to a report by broker CitiHabitats. A two-bedroom commanded an average $3,920 a month, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier.

Sales Demand

Rising rents and record-low mortgage rates have helped fuel demand for purchases of smaller apartments. Studios and one-bedroom apartments accounted for 53 percent of all Manhattan sales transactions in the second quarter, the second-highest share since the end of 2009, according to a July 3 report by New York appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

For the adAPT NYC project at 335 E. 27th St., at least 75 percent of the apartments must be micro-units, which will include kitchens and bathrooms. The designs will be judged based on affordability, the innovativeness of the layout, and the developer’s experience. Submissions are due Sept. 14.

The initiative is part of Bloomberg’s “New Housing Marketplace Plan,” a program to finance 165,000 new and renovated units of below-market affordable housing by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.

The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

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