City’s First Micro-Unit Development Begins Review


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

Mixed-use development will feature 55 experimental micro-units between 250- and 350-square-feet each unit. On April 8, 2013 the City Planning Commission certified the adAPT NYC proposal as complete and ready for review. The plan, proposed by the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, seeks to initiate an innovative approach to affordable housing through the development of micro-units. A new, 10-story building will be constructed to house 55 residential units as well as retail and community space. The chosen development site, at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan, is currently a 12-space parking lot used by New York City Housing Authority employees. The 4,725-square-foot site is bordered by Mt. Carmel Place, East 28th Street, First Avenue, and a pedestrian-only portion of East 27th Street. The site is immediately adjacent to one of NYCHA’s Nathan Strauss Houses to the north and Bellevue South Park to the west. Bellevue Hospital is also close by and to the east.

In July 2012, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the launch of adAPT NYC with a competition to develop a micro-unit pilot program. The Bloomberg Administration created the program in conjunction with HPD in an effort to catch up with the growing need for one- and two-person apartments. HPD issued a request for proposals in July 2012 and Mayor Bloomberg announced the winning developer in January 2013. Monadnock Development, in partnership with the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation and nARCHITECTS, will develop and operate the building and will seek LEED silver certification. The 27,600 square foot, mixed-use building will reach 111 feet in height and a 5.9 floor area ratio. The ground floor will feature 550 square feet of retail and 111 square feet of community facility space. Additionally, ten percent of the floor area will be dedicated to residential amenities including common lounges on each floor, a rooftop garden, an eighth floor outdoor deck, and laundry, storage, bike and fitness rooms.

The 55, one- to two-person micro-units will be subject to strict design criteria and will make use of the limited square footage by utilizing overlapping functions and flexible arrangement options. The studio-style units will feature two distinct areas: a toolbox zone, which will include a kitchen, separate bathroom, and 16-foot-long overhead storage unit, and a canvas zone, which will be an open space for eating and sleeping. The unit will have a floor to ceiling height of 9 feet, 10 inches featuring a full one-wall window with a Juliette balcony for maximum light and air. Pre-fabricated units will be constructed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard by Capsys, a local modular manufacturer. Forty percent of the units (22 units) will be affordable for a period of 30 years targeting area median incomes of 80 percent ($1,115 rent per month), 145 percent ($1,811 rent per month), and 155 percent ($1,940 rent per month).

HPD is seeking to extend a C2-5 overlay on the R8-zoned site to allow for the ground-floor retail use, dispose of the City-owned site to allow sale to the development’s future owner, and designate the site as an Urban Development Action Area Project (UDAAP). HPD also sought mayoral overrides in order to facilitate the unique project, including waivers of requirements regarding the maximum number of dwelling units per floor area; minimum dwelling unit size; streetwall, height, setback, and lot coverage; and planting areas.

At City Planning’s review session on April 8, 2013, the Commissioners discussed the possibility of permanent affordability and the kind of project analysis that will inform future housing policy as matters that should be examined during the Commission’s review process. Chair Amanda M. Burden stressed the importance of determining how success of the experiment will be measured, “’Will it sell?’ can’t be the only measurement,” the analysis must also include the project’s management and operation, affordability, and overall community satisfaction.

Chair Burden certified the application and sent it to Manhattan Community Board 6 for a 60-day review.

CPC: adAPT NYC – 335 East 27th Street (130235 ZMM – rezoning); (130236 HAM – UDAAP and disposition) (April 8, 2013).

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