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Boston Pushing Micro-Apartments or Something Like Them

In what may be a truly historic shift in Boston real estate, the Menino administration has authorized the construction of housing units as small as 450 square feet across the city, not just in its downtown core.

Hizzoner has one caveat, though: These new units must be built within 1 mile of public transit. The idea is to further foster an urban wonderland of transit-oriented development, where young professionals move car-less through a Boston of severely functional living spaces and hip new common areas, including restaurants and wifi-wired parks. It's something that's already happening, and may happen much more now, thanks to the Menino administration memo. That memo, per Casey Ross at The Globe, not only authorizes studios of 450 square feet, but one-bedrooms of 625 square feet and two-bedrooms of 750 square feet.

Now! Are these actually the much-ballyhooed micro-apartments sought by developers and championed by some in City Hall? It depends on what your definition of "micro" is. These are not the units of as small as 350 square feet that some were pushing for, and that are already realities in cities like Seattle and San Francisco (the latter, in fact, has apartments of fewer than 300 feet!). They are, though, smaller than what Bostonians would be used to, and they will seem downright exotic in some parts of the city outside of the downtown area.

Moreover! Whether they're, in fact, micro-apartments also depends on what you think a micro-rent should be (or whether micro-rents should go along with micro-apartments). Right now, the city's first versions of micro-apartments, in South Boston's Innovation District, are renting very much at market rates, if not slightly above. That's given some in the city pause. What's the point of really small apartments with really high rents? Especially when a bigger apartment nearby might be renting for the same? The big question after this latest move, then: Will people pay macro prices for micro-apartments beyond the city's core? Stay tuned. This whole thing just got more interesting.
· Boston Backs Development of Smaller Living Units [Globe]
· Hub Micro-Apartments: Follow the Money and the Rest Is Noise [Curbed Boston]
· Here's How Much Micro-Apartments in Southie Could Go For [Curbed Boston]
· Boston Micro-Apartments Confront Macro-Economics [Curbed Boston]
· Somerville's Downward-Facing Doghouse and Hub's Apt. Future [Curbed Boston]
· Like You, Boston Micro-Apartments Can't Escape the Rent [Curbed Boston]
· Are Boston Micro-Apartments for Real? [Curbed Boston]
· 10 Things Cheaper Than a Boston Micro-Apartment's Rent [Curbed Boston]