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Aging Chelsea building is transformed into millennial-friendly rental

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Architect Andre Kikoski refreshed 200 rentals in a circa-1985 building with modern, luxe features

Photos by Will Ellis

“What if the micro-unit grew up?” That’s the question that architect Andre Kikoski asked himself when presented with the opportunity to completely revamp 200 apartments within the Grove, a circa-1985 Chelsea rental building.

Each of the building’s one-bedroom units measures about 550 square feet—not a micro apartment by the traditional definition, but not exactly large, either. According to Kikoski, these small-ish apartments were configured in an awkward way that didn’t maximize the square footage. “The space was very average, and the interiors were very 1985,” he explains. (Listings photos confirm that this is, indeed, true.)

One of the older one-bedroom apartments at the Grove, pre-renovation.
Photo via StreetEasy

So when Kikoski was tasked with re-envisioning these spaces, he knew that he wanted them to “go from lackluster to spectacular.” But instead of looking to other residential developments for inspiration, he and his team went in a different direction, getting ideas from a new breed of boutique hotels (he namechecks Citizen M and Mama Shelter) that prioritize good design in small spaces, and, as Kikoski says, “appeal to that millennial sweet spot.”

“We’re not going for an uptown feel,” explains Kikoski. “We’re going for something that is a universal cool—not opulent or posh, but airy and sophisticated.”

At the Grove, the apartments were reconfigured entirely: kitchens went from galley-style to L-shaped; the living rooms were given a “loft-like feel”; and the bedrooms were enlarged, with walk-in closets added. The firm also added luxe materials, such as quartz countertops and bleached oak floors, along with innovative additions like 3D printed tiles in the bathroom, and USB ports in every outlet.

Those techie features are no accident—when Kikoski took on the project, he had the surrounding neighborhood’s myriad tech firms, and the renters they would likely attract, in mind. (Google’s headquarters, for instance, is just a few blocks away.) “It’s about great technology, but it’s also about a great place to call home,” Kikoski says.

Consider that mission accomplished. The apartments that have been revamped so far are far more modern and fresh than the building’s older units, and eventually, 200 apartments will be transformed. (The renovation is happening in stages, with units rented out as they’re remodeled.) Kikoski’s team also worked with landscape architects Future Green to refresh the building’s outdoor spaces.

“The whole thing became way bigger than the actual square footage of the unit,” says Kikoski. “It’s a way to breathe new life into this asset.”