Micro units: First batch of Boston’s mini apartments will soon open in Innovation District

A rendering of a 300-square-foot micro unit.

With sky rocketing transportation costs and steadily rising rent prices in the Hub, city officials hope to give Boston professionals a little relief — in the form of a very little apartment.

In mid-November, ADD Inc., a local architecture and design firm, debuted a mock up of a 300-square-foot micro apartment, offering a glimpse at one of the roughly 300 units being developed in the Innovation District along the South Boston waterfront.

The idea is to not only offer what city officials consider to be reasonably priced apartments in the Innovation District, but to foster collaboration between young professionals.

“We are trying to shoot for diversity here,” said 27-year-old Quinton Kerns, a designer at ADD Inc., who said he hopes to rent a micro-unit. “Diversity mixed with density.”

The prospective tenants are young professionals from a diverse range of occupations. They would collide in common living spaces within the building.

“The idea of having a small unit is not a new idea,” said Nicole Fichera, the Innovation District Manager at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. “What is distinctive in this case is making sure we’re thinking of it not just as a small unit where you keep your bed, but part of a story about innovative housing that helps people collaborate with each other more effectively.”

“I think we will see that people from all industries and many different ages will have an interest in these places,” she said.

Kerns said it is too soon to speculate on how much a unit would cost, and that numbers put out by other media outlets that put a $1,500 monthly price tag on the apartments are “arbitrary.”

But according to Fichera, tenants would pay a rent that is “significantly lower” than the average cost of living in the Innovation District.

“The units are intended for people whose income is too high to qualify for affordable housing, but have priced out of the housing market. The price point is reachable,” she said.

While there are currently no plans for micro units in other parts of the city, Fichera said they may spread to other Boston neighborhoods.

“This is a pilot project in the Innovation District, so it is specific to that location, but part of (Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s) vision of the Innovation District is that it is an urban lab. We’re testing it out.”


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