Bloomberg Plans Teeny NYC Apartments
Contest looks for designs in 275 to 300 square foot range
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2012 9:14 AM CDT
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the official weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest July 3, 2012 at City Hall in New York.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Just when you thought New York City studio apartments couldn't get any smaller, the mayor comes up with this idea: apartments that measure up at just 275 to 300 square feet. Michael Bloomberg launched a city contest yesterday to develop the "micro-units," which will be housed in a city-owned property and used to test the market for such smaller living spaces. Currently, city zoning laws require most apartments to be at least 400 square feet, but Bloomberg says there is demand for smaller apartments, and supporters say similar programs in London, Tokyo, and Seattle have been successful.

With 1.8 million NYC dwellers living in households of just one or two people—but just 1 million studio or one-bedroom apartments available—many have turned to illegally subdividing apartments. The contest winner will design a building holding about 80 units, 20% of which will be reserved for low-income residents and the rest of which will rent for below market value of $2,000 a month, reports the Wall Street Journal (which also adds, amusingly, that an average new Rikers jail cell is 70 square feet). The mayor made sure to explain that these units won't be jail cells; they'll have "windows" and "a separate bathroom."