In a county facing a shortage of a million housing units, how can we provide more affordable housing, be more welcoming to families, and boost transit ridership in our urban centers? For all three, the answer can be a solution for a range of demographics. It attracts young professionals, empty nesters, retirees, long-distance commuters, and young couples. As real estate costs and rents escalate and urban density increases, the micro-unit is an increasingly appealing solution. This Master Plan directly responds to the Transit Oriented Communities program instituted by the City of Los Angeles, through highly densified housing.
Micro-housing is a reaction to our increasingly dense cities’ rising housing costs and is a response to a growing desire for affordable downtown living. Defined as units 350 SF or smaller, micro-units are designed to make the most of their reduced living area with highly-rationalized circulation and flexible furniture and spaces. This attracts young professionals who put a premium on vibrant and convenient locations. Micro-housing buildings often offer highly desirable shared amenities and thriving communities to make the buildings’ common areas an extension of their compact living spaces.
Usually leasing at approximately 20-30% less than conventional apartments, micro units offer a desirable product for many who want to live in high-density, expensive metropolitan markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
Living small can be a solution for a range of demographics. It attracts young professionals, empty nesters, retirees, long-distance commuters, and young couples. As real estate costs and rents escalate and urban density increases, the micro-unit is an increasingly appealing solution.
- Micro unit has no standard definition, a working definition is a small studio apartment. The size of what qualifies as a micro unit is determined by the market in which it exists.
- Typically, less than 350 square feet. Though, a footprint varies typically between 200 and 400 square feet.
- Fully functioning and accessibility compliant kitchen and bathroom.
CREATING MIDDLE-INCOME AFFORDABILITY – THE MISSING MIDDLE
Market forces, technology and changing demographics have resulted in market acceptance of micro-units in many high cost markets
An Urban Land Institute survey from 2015 found that “ability to live alone” was one of the highest priorities of micro-unit tenants, after price and location, Micro-units offer all three. If we’re going to promote family-friendly development in our growing urban centers, we need complementary housing for singles, young people and retirees to take the pressure off larger units.
As we’ve seen in cities across the U.S. and around the world, many people will happily exchange a small amount of living space for lower rent, a more central location, and the opportunity to live on their own with community shared amenities.
LIVING SMALL/EXPERIENCING BIG
The more central locations in the city offer a huge variety of activities in proximity, where the neighborhood and the streetscape itself is part of the amenity package for micro-unit tenants. Although living small and most likely alone, the nearby retail shops, restaurants, parks, museums, etc. are providing a big variety of fun experiences and convenient daily commute.
No parking requirements = no parking podium, no driveways + more activated streets, with residential amenities and retail spaces enhancing the public realm.
Micro-housing buildings often offer highly desirable shared amenities and thriving community space to encourage neighbors’ interaction. The shared amenities and thriving community space to encourage neighbors’ interaction.
Eliminating parking from micro-units buildings reduces rents, in turn increasing overall affordability. It also attracts car-free residents over those who need a place to store their vehicles. These residents are far more likely to walk, bike, and use transit for most of their trips, and they’re the type of residents who benefit most from living in an urban center. Encouraging a walkable city, most micro-unit projects are planned close to major transportation where city zoning codes do no require parking. This makes for a livable, active streetscape, where residential units and amenity spaces are close to, and interacting with the streets, as opposed to what often is the case with large, multi-story podiums containing parking.
Walkable cities – micro-units have proven successful in high density urban areas and transit-oriented communities across the country.
US walking scores by major cities, and by LA neighborhoods with Steinberg Hart-designed micro-unit projects.
Strategically located on infill sites in highly walkable neighborhoods of Los Angeles and in proximity to major public transportation, the Steinberg Hart designed projects in this Master Plan will result in significant densification, providing much needed housing where it’s efficient and most sustainable: close to major infrastructure and where people already live, work, and play. On sites the size of a one or two single-family home properties, these projects can each provide apartments to over 200 households.
Denser development, and a smaller carbon footprint.
Micro-units reduces total carbon emissions substantially on three levels – embodied carbon, operational carbon and transportation carbon. Projects do not offer parking, but are situated near public transportation, promoting a car-free lifestyle that relies on walking, biking and use of public transportation, reducing transportation carbon emissions.
These smaller units demand less energy for temperature control and lighting, lowering per capita energy consumption. The savings at the unit level benefit the larger housing project, making it more affordable. Economically designing housing not only provides affordable, efficient living spaces, fostering social interaction among tenants, but also supports and promotes sustainable urban development.
With the similar lot size as single family housing, the micro housing projects offer a much higher density community to ease the global housing crisis by reducing housing shortage and increasing affordability. With lots often the size of one or two single-family home lots, micro-units can yield up to around 225 units. Or instead of 5-15 DU/AC, micro units can offer up to around 700 DU/AC.
The density of the micro-units in this Master Plan is about 3 times that of a typical podium multi-family project. However, these micro-units projects are located on properties often overlooked by traditional developers, because conventional multi-family typologies with standard size units and parking would not be feasible.
In a county facing a shortage of a million housing units, how can we provide more affordable housing, be more welcoming to families, and boost transit ridership in our urban centers? For all three, the answer comes in a small package: micro-units. Located close to public transportation, the no-parking housing model of these micro-units enhances affordability by diverting funds typically used for subterranean or podium garages towards housing production. By eliminating parking costs, more economically priced, compact apartments can be developed. And while doing so we are connecting tenants visually to the street and fostering a vibrant, neighborhood-centric lifestyles.
Although typically defined as units 350 SF or smaller, Micro-units have widely varying definitions depending on the cities in which they’re built. This is in part due to building code variations between cities but is also attributable to the market’s increasing acceptance of smaller units. Equipped with a fully functioning and accessible-compliant kitchen and bathroom, micro-units are designed to make the most of their reduced living area with highly rationalized layouts and flexible furniture and spaces. The accessible balconies not only make the space visually expanded, but also introduce private outdoor living/dining opportunities for the tenants.
Per many cities’ municipal code requirements, private open space is often required. Balconies can contribute to meeting those requirements, while adding more living area to a small space. Balconies can contribute to meeting those requirements while adding more livable space. Balconies do not only provide a distinct outdoor space for gathering or relaxing, but also play a big role on architectural façade articulation with a variety of forms and material use.
Balconies act as an invaluable extension of the limited living space while adding aesthetic interests and opportunities for unique articulation on the exterior façade.
The more central locations in the city offer a huge variety of activities in proximity, where the neighborhood and the streetscape itself is part of the amenity package for micro-units tenants. Although living small and most likely alone, the nearby retail, shops, restaurants, parks, museums etc are providing a big variety of fun experiences and convenient daily commute.
Micro-units make the most of their reduced living area with highly rationalized layouts and flexible furniture and spaces. The accessible balconies not only make the space visually expanded, but also introduce private outdoor living/dining opportunities for the tenants.
ONE BUILT; FOUR TO GO
McCadden Micro-Units represents the first of 5 micro-unit projects to be completed within the next 24 months, providing the first 69 completed units out of a total of 604 permitted and currently in construction.
Located in the heart of Hollywood, McCadden Micro-Units exemplifies the idea that the neighborhood is the best amenity, where expansive views and large balconies make the space feel larger and connected to the city.