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Boston micro-apartments: a brief history of the trend

How the once-ballyhooed solution to the city’s housing crunch petered out

Once upon a time, micro-apartments and micro-condos were supposed to solve—or at least salve—Boston’s notorious housing crunch.

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The idea from City Hall and private developers was that thousands of smaller units (some as cozy as 375 square feet) would pop up throughout the city to house tenants and owners who simply needed a place to lay their heads in between bouts of compulsive coding. The expectation—though this was rarely voiced—was that these tinier units would go for relatively less expensive prices and rents.

It seemed like a win-win: lower rents/prices, more housing. And yet: Micro-apartments never really took in Boston. Sure, there are hundreds of new "innovation units" since 2011, when the trend started, and hundreds more small studios dating from before that year.

But those thousands of new micro-units never materialized. Let’s take a look at how it all went kaput.