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South Boston to Get Hundreds of Manhattan Apartments

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And the lifestyle that supposedly comes with them. A key ingredient of Mayor Menino's recipe for changing the South Boston waterfront forever has started to take shape—in tiny, tiny form. The mayor has proposed altering city regulations to allow for the construction of hundreds of small-by-Boston-standards apartments, some as cozy as 375 square feet and most around the 400-square-foot mark (right now the minimum's 450). A handy graphic accompanying Casey Ross' Globe story this morning shows us that 375 square feet is roughly one-third the size of Red Sox owner John Henry's pool. So there's that, the size.

More importantly for the neighborhood's future—and perhaps the city's as a whole, as the administration and private developers have no plans to stop on the waterfront—is who the teeny apartments are targeted toward.

The administration and developers are pretty upfront about the kinds of tenants they would like to attract to what Ross aptly calls "micro-apartments."

“It’s more eclectic, funky space,’’ said developer John B. Hynes III, who is planning to build about 150 such units in three buildings at the Seaport Square project near the federal courthouse. The Hynes apartments would be 400 to 500 square feet and would rent for $1,500 to $2,000 a month, depending on size. The renters, Hynes said, “will only be there to sleep and maybe do a little work. If they want to entertain people, there will be other common spaces within the buildings where they can host a Super Bowl party or whatever it happens to be.’’

Otherwise, they are expected to be thinking and thriving in the city's Innovation District, which happily runs largely conterminous with the South Boston area where these micro-apartments are going. It's an idealized universe of hip, young pros and bros who have no need for creature comforts as they're too busy, too distracted, too NOW, man, to be home on the couch in front of Seinfeld reruns at 7:30 (the architect for micro-apartments at 63 Melcher Street, 381 Congress Street and 411 D Street is improbably called ADD Inc.).

It's all laudable in a way. The city needs more apartments; and this sort of live-near-where-you-work arrangement precludes the need for cars, so less traffic and less pollution.

But $1,500 a month for 375 square feet? Two thousand for 400? Never mind whether hypothetical hundreds of tenants might go for this (they do by the hundreds of thousands down in Manhattan/Brooklyn, oceans of ambition carrying the youngsters into Gotham's maw every May and September), the notion hinges on continued job growth in the tech sector and in sectors that work with it, like marketing and media. A couple of economic bumps in the road down the line and South Boston's full of a closets that can't be rented. Right?

· Mayor Pushes Micro-Units to Lure Young to Waterfront [Globe]
· Boston's 5,000 New Apartments Won't Mean Lower Rents [Curbed Boston]

Innovation District

1 Marina Park Drive, Boston, MA 02101