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Hub Micro-Apartments: Follow the Money and the Rest Is Noise

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Apparently, with micro-apartments in the Hub, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die. The latest salvo pushing the idea? A Globe editorial calling for thinking outside the boxes we might soon have no choice but to live in: "So far, though, the City of Boston has allowed only a limited trial in the pricey Seaport District. But if the city took a lighter touch, and let local architects' imaginations flower, the housing that resulted might look much different from what city government would prescribe."

Seeing micro-apartments as merely a challenge of design—how do we file souls away comfortably in spaces as small as 300 square feet—misses the point. The issue in the Hub has evolved way beyond where to stick the bike rack or whether to have a Juliet terrace. It's reached the point of realization that micro-apartments, in Boston at least, still have and would have regular-sized rents.

We would think, then, that it's less about incentivizing developers to build micro-apartments—micro-apartments are actually cheaper to build per-unit than traditional apartments because the most expensive elements of an apartment, the kitchen and bathroom, are decidedly smaller. And it's also less about finding ever-quirkier ways to cram more stuff into small spaces—the general design gist of a micro-apartment has already been established and, indeed, put into practice in places like San Francisco and Seattle.

Instead, the debate over micro-apartments in the Hub should be purely about dollars and sense at this point (see what we did there?). Boston micro-apartments (or, "innovation units," as the city would have it) have already been asking north of $2,200 a month—about the rent for a traditional studio or even a one-bedroom that's not necessarily in the city's core. However they're designed, then, micro-apartments are clearly not the answer to Greater Boston's relatively sky-high rents. We would suggest it's back to the drawing board altogether.
· Housing Design: Let 1,000 Micro-Units Bloom [Globe]
· Here's How Much Micro-Apartments in Southie Could Go For [Curbed Boston]
· Boston Micro-Apartments Confront Macro-Economics [Curbed Boston]
· Like You, Boston Micro-Apartments Can't Escape the Rent [Curbed Boston]