The Wharf’s Micro-Units Still Planned, Yet Not-So-Micro After All

by Lark Turner

Rendering of a micro-unit at The Wharf. Courtesy of PN Hoffman.

The micro-units planned for The Wharf, which announced last week that it would be starting construction next month, will be not be quite as micro as previously thought.

Matt Steenhoek of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront wrote UrbanTurf with an update on the small units:

“We are still planning to have a number of ‘micro-units’ planned for Phase 1 of the Wharf. There are approximately 170 units within one of our apartment buildings that has a total of 501 units, so it is not a micro-unit building per se but a large apartment building that includes micros as part of the general mix.”


The units also won’t be quite as small as the dimensions we reported last June, when we wrote that they would range in size from 330 to 380 square feet. Steenhoek says most of the units will average around 355 square feet.

However, the layout and small space finishes remain the same. Built-ins will fill up one entire wall, from the doorway to the window. Shelves for books, an armoire for clothing, a sleek kitchen and a Murphy bed that turns into a couch and shelf at night will allow residents to make better use of the available floor space. Rather than swinging doors, the Wharf units will have a sliding barn door. The bathroom will have natural light coming through a translucent glass wall near the shower.


“The general approach with the full wall of millwork/murphy bed, etc. is still the same, as is the approach with the floor to ceiling windows/bays and the juliet balconies,” Steenhoek said. “Delivery is anticipated in 2017.”

See other articles related to: the wharf dc, southwest waterfront, micro units, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_wharfs_micro-units_still_planned_yet_not-so-micro_after_all/8129


  1. CHRIS said at 4:00 pm on Tuesday February 18, 2014:

    Yeah, this seems like the smart move.  Micro-units are likely to only work in super-expensive, dense urban neighborhoods where the neighborhood is the main selling point and suppy is tight.  Nationally, outside NYC and SF, micro-units are probably only viable in a few core neighborhoods of DC,BOS,CHI,SEA,PHILLY and LA.  SW Waterfront has risen a lot, but it will be a long time (if ever) before it ever rivals the concentrated vibrancy of the prime NW core neighborhoods.

  1. Judith Claire said at 4:56 pm on Tuesday February 18, 2014:

    Many residents live in SW Waterfront because it is so peaceful. Even our seagulls are peaceful and the sunsets over the water are spectacular. A five minute walk to Arena Stage is a real bargain!

  1. mary said at 6:12 pm on Tuesday February 18, 2014:

    micro units are fine, but like petit plats/sharable entrees/tapas in DC, they want to charge the same amount rent for them as a 940 sq foot 1 bedroom apartment - $3-$5k. renter, beware.

  1. h st ll said at 9:31 am on Wednesday February 19, 2014:

    Looks beautiful!

  1. Alex said at 4:27 pm on Wednesday February 19, 2014:

    I agree with Mary.  Without assurance these rates will have proportional cost per square ft, the renter is the only one who loses here.

    The marketing scheme here: the renter gets nicer finishes, built ins (murphy beds, and “a lower rent”.  For the developers, the trade off here is a one-time fee of nicer finishes/built ins for a larger net rent, recurring each month.

  1. jag said at 12:35 am on Thursday February 20, 2014:

    “Without assurance these rates will have proportional cost per square ft, the renter is the only one who loses here.”

    That doesn’t really make sense. The rents will be what the market can support. If units remain vacant because they aren’t priced appropriately then the only one who loses is the building owner.

  1. DC225 said at 10:44 am on Thursday February 20, 2014:

    This article title is misleading.  The developer says that these apartments will average 355 square feet, which is absolutely microscopic.  Sure, it’s larger than the 330 sqf. originally estimated, but does an extra 25 sqf. suddenly make a tiny apartment spacious?

  1. The Editors said at 10:52 am on Thursday February 20, 2014:


    By and large, micro-units are considered to be between 250 and 330 square feet since the term was introduced in 2012. A number of new DC projects are now touting micro-units when in fact the units they offer will range in size from 350 to 400 square feet, the size of many studios in the region.

    The term micro-unit has become a bit of a buzz word for developers building new projects in the region and we believe it is important to distinguish between actual micro-units and condos which will essentially be the size of many studio apartments in the city.

    The Editors

  1. Alex said at 3:29 pm on Wednesday February 26, 2014:

    “That doesn’t really make sense. The rents will be what the market can support. If units remain vacant because they aren’t priced appropriately then the only one who loses is the building owner.”

    I understand this reasoning, but this disregards the fact that DC is currently severely under-served with affordable housing for young professionals.  I simply don’t believe these rents are going to be significantly lower due to the lack of supply.  The demand is too great for these units to be any reasonable cost.

    The developer might see a slightly lower occupancy rate, but if rent cost is on par with other options in the city then the PSF price will be higher and the developer still comes out on top.

    I can be wrong, but unless they are properly designed and the public has assurance the PSF price will be proportional, this is one step closer to tenement housing.

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