Cities Start to Embrace 250-Square Foot Apartments

by Shilpi Paul

Cities Start to Embrace 250-Square Foot Apartments: Figure 1
Three micro-studios. Image courtesy of R2L Architects. Click to enlarge.

The lure of the micro-studio is sweeping the nation.

San Francisco is considering lowering the minimum size of an apartment within the city borders, from 290 square feet to 220 square feet, reported The Los Angeles Times recently. The city is taking a look at the building code today.

As we reported this summer, the tech boom and limited new construction have led to sky-high rents in San Francisco. Micro-studios may offer non-dotcom millionaires an affordable way to live in the city. Although, according to the San Franciscan who drafted the legislation, in a city where the average rent is above $2,000, affordability means that micro-units may rent for between $1,200 and $1,700 per month.

Opponents of the legislation worry that increased density will stress public transit systems and public spaces. Some also feel unnerved by the idea of “shoe box legislation.”

“We are humans, not spiders,” said Carmelita Perez in the article.

With this news and Michael Bloomberg’s call for submissions for the best micro-unit layout in New York City (the Mayor asked for designs between 275 and 300 square feet), it seems that populated cities are more and more open to exploring the possibility of providing very small homes. The zoning code in New York City also prohibits dwellings that small; Bloomberg will waive the regulations in order to test out the concept in one building in a Manhattan neighborhood.

While DC doesn’t have anything quite that teeny yet, a poll we conducted this summer revealed that a majority of respondents would be willing to sacrifice space to save money. Also, R2L:Architects told us about a proposed project that almost brought 275-square foot apartments to Chinatown. So, could DC be the next city to embrace small-scale living spaces?

See other articles related to: san francisco, new york city, micro units

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/san_francisco_may_join_the_micro-studio_market/6072


  1. D.B. said at 8:41 pm on Tuesday September 25, 2012:
    As small as 250 square feet is, I think micro-apartments could be extremely popular in DC.
  1. kob said at 12:03 am on Wednesday September 26, 2012:
    DC may not have specific tiny unit buildings but it has plenty of tiny apartments. My place is 356 square-feet, and I've seen listings for units much smaller scattered about in many buildings. Small is great. Energy costs are very low. But 275 square-feet and less seems really small to me. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that these smaller units will be popular provided they are located next to busy areas, with coffee shops, restaurants. That's the only way these really work. You need to feel integrated with the city.
  1. chris said at 2:55 pm on Wednesday September 26, 2012:
    Yeah, I think the location would be key. You really need the city as your "living room" aspect. Logan or Dupont would be a good areas, but there is not much free land. NoMa and Navy Yard have the land, but IMO there just isn't enough in those neighborhoods (for now at least) to pull this off.
  1. StringsAttached said at 4:06 pm on Wednesday September 26, 2012:
    I'm sorry but I'm 6'4"; what in the heck would I do with 250 sq. ft.!? DC has too many rental options for 250 sq. ft. living spaces to become popular. The only way this would work as pointed out in the story is price. And it would have to be a heck of a low one at that!

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