Figueroa-Levin: The Big Apple gets a taste of living small
A new housing trend is about to hit New York City: micro apartments. Between 250 and 450 square feet, these impossibly tiny abodes will supposedly meet the housing needs of an already overcrowded city. An example was just on display at the Museum of the City of New York.
The mini studios are the brainchild of our billionaire mayor, whose bathroom is probably bigger than my entire apartment. The idea is to provide young, newly arrived professionals somewhere they can afford to live while they save up for bigger places. No word if the other idea is for landlords to be able to fit as many people as possible into a single building.
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to stay huddled in overpriced sardine cans.
These tiny apartments are a great idea if you don't spend a lot of time at home. When we first moved in together, my now-husband and I lived in a small studio (though at twice the size of one of these micros, I guess I shouldn't call it small). Size didn't matter so much back then because it was just the two of us and we were always out. I loved that little place. That is, until we both got food poisoning at the same time. Imagine two people violently ill confined to a walk-in closet.
Micro apartments need careful floor plans, and a Murphy bed is pretty much a requirement. Imagine coming home late, exhausted and/or inebriated, and instead of collapsing into bed, having to figure out how to unfold it from the wall.
And will these micro apartments actually, ultimately, be affordable? Moderately priced student housing? Maybe some can go to young teachers who work in Manhattan but can't afford to live here.
The model apartment at the museum was filled with sleek, designer furniture -- a great way to market the whole idea. But those furnishings cost more than all the furniture in my much bigger two-bedroom apartment, so I'm going to assume that affordability isn't a high priority. Let's face it, little in the Bloomberg administration has affordability as a priority.
Of course, these new apartments are part of New York City's heritage of tiny housing. When my great-grandparents came to America, they, too, lived in a micro apartment. An example of one of those is on display at the Tenement Museum.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican, @EveryGentrifier and @ElBloombito.