Patrick Kennedy knows what it's like to live in cramped quarters: the Berkeley-based real estate developer used to share a 78-square-foot Airstream trailer with his wife and child. So when he made plans to design and develop the smallest studio apartments allowed by law in California, he was no stranger to the task.
"What I want to do now is build the urban equivalent of Levittown," he explains – "entry level, urban housing for about $200K each."
His firm, Panoramic Interests, has two such developments planned for San Francisco: one currently underway in the South of Market area and another in the Mission District, slated for completion in 2014.
"San Francisco's an interesting city," he says of the need for compact apartments. "Forty-two percent of the population lives alone – much higher than any other American city."
To truly test the livability of his design, Kennedy built a prototype of the apartment inside a Berkeley warehouse, and invited a student to try it out for three weeks. While the design needs some revision, he's confident that the principle is sound and the market is there. "If your life exists largely outside your dwelling place, as it does either in the outdoors or in the big city, then you don't need quite such a big space."