Hot Trend – Seattle Micro Housing

     In an effort to increase affordability and urban density, there is a new micro housing trend in the City of Seattle.  It consists of small apartment units of as little as 140 square feet, trademarked by one builder as “aPodments.”  These “aPodments” have a bathroom, shower, and a convenience center for a mini refrigerator and microwave.  Like a modern boarding house, units share centralized kitchens in the building.  Rents vary from $500-$900 per month, and amenities such as laundry and Wi-Fi are typically extra.

     Micro housing has been a polarizing issue in Seattle. One objection is that here in Seattle, unlike in San Francisco or New York, the process of creating code to allow such buildings isn’t currently up for review—it’s old code. So micro-apartments pop up, sometimes with little warning, in places where neighbors have been expecting traditional four- to six-unit buildings. With micro-apartments, “unit” is likely redefined to mean an entire floor of eight tiny apartments with locking doors and bathrooms, plus one kitchen and one common area. A series of DPD code changes over the last 10 years means parking is not currently required for many apartments in most city neighborhoods.

     In an increasingly “single” Seattle, micro-apartments are an attractive option to singles with limited income, very few possessions, and who use public transportation.   Currently in the Ballard neighborhood there is a 3 story, 27 unit micro-apartment proposed to replace a single family home in the 14oo block of NW 57th Street.  Another 5 story, 49 unit is planned for the 1500 block of NEW 52nd Street.

    Because of the controversies surrounding this trend, the Seattle DPD has put together some draft recommendations governing micro housing.

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