City Planning Commission Hears AdAPT NYC Micro-Unit Proposal


Rendering of micro-unit interior. On the left, the canvas space, and on the right, the toolbox space. Image Credit: Office of the Mayor.

City’s proposed micro-unit pilot program criticized for lack of permanently affordable housing. On July 24, 2013, the City Planning Commission held a hearing on the City’s first micro-unit building, part of the Mayor’s adAPT NYC program. The development will serve as a pilot program to test the viability and marketability of 250- to 360-square-foot units in a single building. The City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development proposed the plan to be built at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan by Monadnock Construction and nARCHITECTS. The 10-story development will contain 55 pre-fabricated one- to two-person residential units; 22 units will be affordable for a period of 30 years and the rest will be available at market rates. The micro-units will have a studio-style design with a toolbox zone (kitchen, bathroom, and storage space) and a canvas zone, which will be an open space for eating and sleeping. (Read CityLand’s past coverage here.)

At the City Planning Commission’s hearing on July 24, 2013, Jennifer Gardner, representing Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, testified as to the borough president’s overall approval of the proposal. However, the borough president called for permanent or longer-term affordability and requested that the applicants and HPD develop an appropriate set of metrics and surveys for measuring the success of the program in terms of marketability, livability, and quality.

Kirk Goodrich, Director of Development at Monadnock, testified that the building’s foundation and facade will be constructed on the development site, while the modular units will be built by Capsys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He expects the entire building to be built in 13 months from start to finish. Goodrich discussed some minor modifications to the building’s layout – instead of common areas on every floor as previously proposed, the eighth floor will have both an outdoor terrace and an indoor salon space open to all tenants. He testified that the ground floor will have 670 sq.ft. of commercial space, which Monadnock expects will be occupied by a cafe. Monadnock is committed to prohibiting bars or other alcohol-related establishments from the commercial space because of Manhattan Community Board 6’s concerns. In response to the Commissioner’s questions about permanent affordability, Goodrich testified that Monadnock will continue to work with the City to find subsidies or tax abatements that could help the development achieve more than 30 years of affordability or affordability in perpetuity. He also testified that the company was developing success measurements, one of which would be exit surveys of tenants.

Moses Gates of the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development testified concerning the affordability of the units. Though he found the proposal interesting, he testified that the level and length of affordability could be improved to serve the poorer households of New York City. He called the proposed rent levels a slight discount off the market rate in one of NYC’s most expensive rental markets. He suggested that the building’s market rate units and the market rate commercial space in such a lucrative area could cross-subsidize permanent affordable units.

The City Planning Commission closed the hearing and will have 60 days to vote on the proposal.

CPC: adAPT NYC – 335 East 27th Street (130235 ZMM – rezoning); (130236 HAM – UDAAP and disposition) (July 24, 2013).

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