San Francisco's 160-unit Micro-Apartment Building Seeks Approval

Even smaller than Mayor Bloomberg's 'micro-apartment' proposal for Manhattan, Berkeley developer Patrick Kennedy has his 'SmartSpace' model, based on his experience living in an Airstream trailer, headed to the Board of Supervisors on July 24.
July 19, 2012, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Carolyn Said writes of an innovative "affordable-by-design" plan to address San Francisco's apartment shortage (vacancy rate near zero) and sky-high prices. Kennedy's building is now in the entitlement process. "It's designed for car-free living; the only parking will be for bikes, with a City CarShare spot outside."

"The goal is to provide flexibility to affordable and market-rate developers to produce all sorts of housing," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose proposal to reduce apartment sizes will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on July 24. "The fact is 41 percent of San Franciscans live alone. There are a lot of people who don't need or can't afford a lot of space."

"The new minimum would be 150 square feet plus kitchen, bathroom and closet - 220 square feet in total, about the size of a one-car garage. The current minimum with all rooms included is 290 square feet."

By comparison, Manhattan's Kips Bay apartment proposal would be no less than 275 sq. ft.

Smaller but more profitable than conventional studio apartments.

"The current average rent for a San Francisco studio apartment is $2,075 a month, according to real estate service RealFacts. Those studios average 493 square feet, making the per-square foot price $4.21. Kennedy's proposed units, at 220 square feet, would rent for $5.91 to $6.82 per foot - a big premium."

The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized in support of the micro-apartments. "The next frontier could be super-small apartments for singles or very well-adjusted couples looking to live inside an Ikea catalog. San Francisco needs to experiment with unconventional housing such as the mini apartment. It's worth seeing if buyers and renters are willing to do the same."

Yet according to San Francisco columnist C.W. Nevius, they already are. "In 2008, an innovative condo building called Cubix opened on Harrison Street, and although the hoots were just as loud - and it experienced some rocky financial times - it is now fully occupied with tenants who say they are neither dissatisfied nor claustrophobic." Unlike the Ninth & Mission streets proposal, Cubix on Harrison St. is for-sale condominiums.

One Chronicle reader was not pleased with the proposal, writing, "Working in a cubicle all day and living in a cubicle apartment does not seem emotionally healthy."

Contributor's Note: See 10-slide photo array above article.

Thanks to Kevin Turner

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, July 14, 2012 in San Francisco Chronicle
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email