9:30 a.m.: The morning of our 24-hour stay in the micro-unit at the Museum of the City of New York (read about yesterday afternoon and the night shift) dawned with a visit from Sarah Watson, deputy director of Citizens Housing Planning Council. The non-profit's research inspired the museum's "Making Room" exhibit, and the organization focuses on the fact that there are "no legal safe options for a single person" in New York City and that policy changes would be needed to allow a wider variety of housing types to be built. The lack of options has both personal and economic consequences: single people entering the NYC housing market, at any age, have nowhere to go, and the market prices of studios are artificially high because the supply doesn't match the demand.
There are many, many different layers of NYC housing policy, and the layers impede the construction of micro-apartments. In addition to the 400-square-foot minimum unit size that became part of city policy in the 1980s, there are also rules about the number of units that developers are allowed to add to buildings, which is a disincentive for developers to add studios to their projects. Regulations about parking based on the number of units in a building are another disincentive, Watson explains. "Housing policy should really just be focused on fire safety transparency," she says.
We spoke to museum curator Donald Albrecht yesterday about the "Making Room" exhibition and the other exhibits on display:
10:11 a.m.: Yesterday, when appraiser extraordinaire Jonathan Miller squeezed some data to figure out that it would cost in the mid-$300K range to buy an apartment of this size, he pointed out that it wouldn't be so easy to get a loan for a purchase of this nature. Why? It's difficult to get financing for apartments under 400 square feet, and the current tight credit environment doesn't help. "Housing is local," JMillz says, "but credit is national. They apply standards to the whole country when in fact these micro-units aren't everywhere, and in terms of absolute square footage, they're not new."
10:22 a.m.: Well, the museum is officially open again, and while we're waiting for more visitors to come check out the micro-unit, the plink-plinky music from the Resource Furniture video, which is constantly on loop, is getting a little tiresome. It's most definitely an earworm.
10:36 a.m.: Jeffrey Cole, who designed The Whitman, a luxury four-unit condo building on Madison Square Park, came by. From the man who designed a 10,000-square-foot penthouse with a putting green comes the following thoughts: "It makes you want to live in much smaller space because there's that obsessive architect/designer appeal for things that are very slick and fold out. You just want things to be reduce-able, minimalist." But he worries that New York doesn't provide any incentives for developers to build smaller units, or that if it does, their cost will similarly rise. " What's going to happen is that instead of spending $2,500/month for a 400-square-foot studio, you'll be spending that for a 200-square-foot one." Added Cole: "I could see giving up my big place and going for something smaller. My dogs would be like, what's going on?"
10:43 a.m.: Untapped Cities paid us a visit yesterday and shared their thoughts: "How would you fare living in an apartment of just 325 square feet? Most of us cringe at the thought, but... We were wowed by the design of the unit, which features many multipurpose pieces of furniture, like an ottoman that could be taken apart and reassembled as a coffee table and stools."
11:01 a.m.: A small-space celebrity is in our midst. Felice Cohen, who famously filmed the video embedded above taking viewers around her 90-square-foot Upper West Side apartment, swung by to do research for her manuscript. She was, sadly, evicted from that inexpensive gem, where she'd passed four years, after the video went viral, but then purchased a pretty average 500-square-foot place nearby.
Cohen is currently writing a book, Lessons Learned in 90 Square Feet, and was awed by the size of the micro-unit, which is almost four times the size of her old place. Cohen looked around and gave her critiques. "The shelves and stuff aren't adjustable. I think one of the requirements if you're going to build a unit like this is one size doesn't fit all," she says. "Someone might have a lot of books, some people might have taller things. It should be able to adapt to the people." Here are some things she's learned from her time in her old place:
· Don't sit up quickly in bed (there were just 23 inches between the top of her old lofted mattress and the ceiling
· Be diligent about what you really use and what you really need. Put stuff in storage. We wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time.
· When something new comes in, something has to go out.
· Make use of the vertical space.
· Having two different ceiling heights gives the look of more space. So do floor-color and wall-color changes from room to room.
In Cohen's old place, she managed to entertain seven of her family members, putting her infant nephew in the tub. "It's a special dance. you learn," she recalls, watching visitors poke around the micro-unit with a seasoned eye.
11:10 a.m.: When you move from a small space to a larger home, the micro way of thinking stays with you. A visitor and her son stopped by this morning, and she said, "I used to live in a 660-square-foot [ed. note: not all that small!] apartment in Brooklyn , and when we moved into our house in New Jersey, everything we owned fit in the living room. But that mentality of making things fit into small spaces remains."
11:19 a.m.: MyPhuong Chung of FXFOWLE paid us an early-morning visit. A veteran when it comes to designing efficient, creative floorplans, she carefully examined all parts of the apartment and the "Making Room" exhibition. As someone who has worked on everything from affordable housing for HPD to luxury projects like 35XV, Chung was impressed by the careful use of space. "I wish my apartments were this nice when I was living in spaces this size and smaller," she says. "I love that so much care and consideration has been put into a smaller space for people of more modest means. To have the choice of having a well-designed, compact space?it makes it more acceptable socially. It helps turn the dial back to a way of living that's more reasonable and responsible. It makes it possible for different kinds of New Yorkers to live and stay here. ... It's a type of space that the city should definitely be encouraging people to live in."
11:28 a.m.: "Did you get claustrophobic?" a museum-goer asked, when told that some of bedraggled bloggers typing furiously on the couch were in their 24th hour of micro-unit living. Though New Yorkers do notoriously suffer from that ailment, we haven't experienced any symptoms. Perhaps because there's no top on this thing, or any doors, so we don't feel as closed-in as we might if the ceiling were lower and there was less light. (The park views help, too.) Any experts out there want to weigh in on the psychological impact of living in a small apartment?
11:34 a.m.: The 24-hour liveblog convinced at least one New York couple to stop by the museum today. "We've been following the site, so we decided we needed to come see it today." Aw, shucks! We're flattered.
11:39 a.m. A student tour is making its way through the Making Room exhibit. They should be descending on the micro-unit any minute now...
11:42 a.m.: They're here! It's a group of 20 students, visiting as a group from a Queens YMCA.
11:45 a.m.: Lots of oohs, aahs, and gasps when the TV slid over to reveal the bar, which the tour guide described as a bookshelf. "Yo! I need this in my house," when the closet bar was pulled down.
11:50 a.m.: Here's the tour crowding into the kitchen to see the half-sized appliances:
· Liveblogging 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: The Adventure Begins (Part 1) [Curbed]
· 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: The Night Shift (Part 2) [Curbed]
· 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: A New Day (Part 3) [Curbed]
· We Survived 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment (Part 4) [Curbed]
· All Microdwellings coverage [Curbed]