TAMPA — You’ve heard of tiny houses. Now Tampa could soon be the first place in Florida to have tiny apartments. (Originally appeared http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/if-you-like-tiny-houses-youll-love-these-tiny-apartments-coming-to-tampa/2320009)
Urban Core Holdings, LLC is under contract to buy a 12-story downtown office building and convert the top eight floors into micro-apartments. Each would have a kitchen with a two-burner stove top, microwave hood, refrigerator and dishwasher; a stackable washer-dryer unit; a bike rack; and a Murphy bed that transforms into a dining table during the day.
All of this in 300 to 400 square feet for about $850 a month, far less than for other downtown apartments that are fast becoming unaffordable without two occupants to share the rent.
“We think that there is a certain group of people that don’t want a roommate, and this is a great opportunity for somebody to live by themselves, save on the expense of a car and live downtown,” said Omar Garcia, Urban Core’s manager.
As the financial hub of the booming bay area, Tampa has a large and growing number of downtown workers — 66,500, including about 13,300 who are under 35, according to study done for the company. Almost 44 percent of all downtown workers have expressed an interest in living downtown.
Although the project is expected to take up to a year to complete, Urban Core will start accepting reservations Monday for 200 Madison, a building at the corner of Madison and Franklin Streets that now houses a Subway, a Pita Republic restaurant and a CVS on the ground floor and offices on the second floor. All of that is likely to remain but plans call for a new common area for residents on the third floor with a gym, pet care area, cafe and balcony overlooking the street.
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The mostly vacant fifth-through-12th floors will be converted into 120 apartments, each of which will have ample windows, Garcia said.
One potential drawback that could raises the cost of the project and the rents — the lack of parking.
“We will not have any parking because the idea is that the residents of this particular community will use mass transit, bike share, ride share and are willing to give up their cars in order to live downtown,” Garcia said.
City rules, though, call for one parking space per unit, and Urban Core could have to pay a one-time fee of nearly $1 million because it can’t meet that requirement.
“We are going to try to negotiate that with the city,” Garcia said. If the fee isn’t totally or partially waived, the rents could rise by about $100 a month, though they still would be about $1,000 less than for certain downtown apartments that are only slightly larger.
Urban Core also owns the 135-unit West River Flats near downtown, which it bought in 2014 and renovated into what have become popular apartments for University of Tampa students. The company runs a shuttle from the apartments to the university, and would probably do the same for students renting in the new project, Garcia said.
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While long popular in densely populated, high-cost Asian cities like Hong Kong, micro-apartments also have started catching on in several U.S. cities as rents soar to sky-high levels.
In 2013, New York City got its first micro apartment building, with 55 units as small as 250 square feet.
Two years later, New York Mayor De Blasio proposed shrinking the city’s 400-square-foot apartment-size limit to under 300 square feet as part of his ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, according to the New York Post.
De Blasio’s announcement came as 60,000 people applied for just 14 below-market-rate “micro-apartments” in the Kips Bay area, where the city launched a building experiment, the Post said.
And last year, a Miami developer said he wanted to build an eye-catching 49-story tower with tiny apartments.
If Tampa’s tiny apartments “get off the ground, we’d probably look to expand throughout the Southeast” Garcia said.
Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate
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