Small Town (Make Room for thy Neighbors)

Small Town_Pic By Roger Shultz
Photo By: Roger Schultz

“Micro-apartments” is Bloomberg’s ingenious buzz-phrase heard around the world, and like much of this administration’s initiatives, it’s a response to market conditions—and it makes business sense. According to recently published census figures, more people are moving into New York City than are leaving—which reverses a trend that began in the 1950s. And Brooklyn is seeing the biggest increase.

This population influx, which requires more inventory, creates an opportunity for smart developers to build more efficient units that yield higher prices per square foot. In neighborhoods like Williamsburg, where demand for studio apartments is driving the market, new development projects, like Williamsburg Social, fulfill a need. Located on North 3rd Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, brought to market by Magnum Real Estate Group and SL Green and marketed by MNS, it comprises twelve three-story townhouses just under 2,000 square feet each, with the row of homes bookended by two rental buildings with 72 units, 95% of which are studios and one-bedrooms.

Williamsburg Social isn’t alone in recognizing the need for efficient units to suit market demands. “Developers love to do small apartments and they’re easy to rent in areas like Williamsburg and Park Slope,” says Funda Durukan, of Durukan Design, a firm well acquainted with maximizing square footage. “The main thing is to keep it open, clean and breathable. We use large windows to push the daylight to the space, and create compact smart kitchenettes that feel like furniture. Developers are willing to spend the money for that.”

Intelligently planned common areas have become a draw for tenants, principally for workspaces or meetings by the freelancing community with flexible work lives, but also for game rooms, libraries, and additional bike storage. Durukan recently brought space-saving solutions like hidden stereo speakers, iPhone docking stations and LED lighting to a two-building new development in Williamsburg, at 220 North 10th Street and 205 North 9th Street. In these buildings, the demand for studios prompted the developer to add smaller units in their next project, at 146 South 4th Street. While Williamsburg is a great laboratory for trends, this is one that we predict will cross the river to Manhattan.