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City of Seattle

January 12, 5:28 PM click here to comment > 19

Micro-apartments: affordable, transit-friendly options for city dwellers

Last week we visited the Solana apartment building located on the growing Jackson Street transit corridor. The Solana is an example of what are known as “micro-apartments”, or as developers Calhoun Properties call them, “aPodments.” The Solana is one of four micro apartment buildings participating in the city’s Multifamily Tax Exemption Program. The MFTE Program provides a tax exemption on the residential portion of multifamily projects in exchange for reserving some of the units for moderate-wage workers.

One great thing about this style of housing is that all of the units in these buildings are considered affordable to individuals with moderate incomes, not only those which are set aside: the average rent will be about $575. The Solana’s 32 units average 170 square feet, and they all have a bathroom with shower. Units like these have appealed to a wide range of folks: workers on a budget, students, and people looking to save up for their own home.

In many ways, it’s what these apartments lack that makes them so interesting. Unlike a typical rental unit, these don’t have kitchens. Each unit has a fridge and a microwave, and access to a cooking space with ample storage and appliances for several residents to share. Apartments at the Solana don’t come with a parking place either, although if tenants want to rent one, they can pay extra. For those who don’t, Metro’s route 7 stops at their front door, and the First Hill Streetcar–we’ll be breaking ground next month–will provide connections to the Broadway and Chinatown/International District Light Rail Stations within two years.

Clearly, micro apartments aren’t for everyone. But our Planning Department continues to hear from builders who are interested in providing them. What that means is that the market is responding to a demand we know is out there: the demand for affordable housing in transit-friendly communities. Our goal is to provide housing options to potential residents at all income levels, and micro apartments are a part of making that goal a reality for many Seattle residents.

Pictures by: Jen Nance

Posted by: Elliott Day


Comment from Iridius
Time January 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

$575 for 170 square feet? That is a bit ridiculous. It’s cheaper to share a house with friends and get 4 times the room.

Comment from Sonny Kwan
Time January 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

These small scale apartment dwellings have been in existence for decades in Chinatown where rent was only $100.00 a month in the 80’s. This concept is really great and I’m glad it’s catching on here in the ever growing population of Seattle. Less room and more functionality is key here. We need to have more areas zoned or re-zoned Urban Centers to accommodate this for more residents.

Pingback from HorsesAss.Org » Blog Archive » Open Thread 1/17
Time January 17, 2012 at 7:57 am

[…] – Micro-apartments […]

Comment from Xana Vegsundvaag
Time January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Fantastic idea that should have been widely implemented years ago! And it is NOT inferior to having a bunch of roommates in a big house, i.e., NO privacy. These microapartments are sharp looking!

Comment from Katherine
Time January 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Way too much money for so little space. Too high for those who can’t afford housing elsewhere. Should be no more than $300/month for that space.

Comment from Glenn
Time January 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Quality of life just keeps going up. With an I-pad for a TV, who needs anything else?

Comment from what_now
Time January 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

Love the idea, but not a big fan of this implementation. Typically unattractive condo appearance and fairly overpriced — I pay $625 for a (small) 1 bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill, complete with my very own kitchen. I have to wonder about the quality of the construction, with units so packed together I hope the walls aren’t too thin. Always glad to have high-density living built on transit lines, though.

Comment from Joys
Time January 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Of course developers like them. More money out of less space. $575 is obscene for 170 sq feet w/shared kitchen. Government once again in cahoots w/developers for making the money on subsidies and tax breaks.

Comment from John S
Time January 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

Let’s do the math!
$575 / 170 = $3.38 per square foot
A quick survey of Roosevelt rentals comes up with 1 bedrooms that usually run between 750-850 square feet. their average rental works out to $1.35 per square feet.
So, far from being a value to the renters, it its a huge profit cow for the developers. If I was a renter needing to pay $575 per month, I’d get a buddy and live in twice as much space with some privacy.

Comment from Jessica
Time February 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

What a rip-off! I had a studio in green lake for that same price. And it had some charm and utilities were included; Even cable.

Comment from Barbara Corfield
Time February 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm

When living in Reno,NV. I lived in a 200 sq Ft apartment that had no kitchen or bathroom.. it was dorm style living at its best. It had a Fridge, and Microwave also… And I only had to pay $315.00 per month that included all utilities… This is still way out of my budget.. As my social security retirement is only $690.00 per month.. I still wouldn’t have enough to live on or to even save..

Comment from Joe
Time July 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I’m posting this anonymously because I have a temporary job as an architect working for a guy that builds these… These are developer driven cash cows that are poorly built and code driven… There are a thousand code loopholes that are abused to increase bottom lines… People need to ask more questions… Find out about the “dwelling unit” code provisions and others…. there’s a lot of bait and switch going on by very shady people… I know I’m basically biting the hand that feeds me by posting this but its wrong…

Comment from BigPic
Time January 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

What we have to look forward to.

Comment from joesgarage
Time January 9, 2013 at 2:55 am

I also now a developer that is building these on Capitol Hill and one in Eastlake. They use to develp townhomes but the permit and design process has changed so it takes like 18 months to get a townhome development approved. Thes apodment units are permitted by exploiting city planning loopholes. So they can start contruction fast with no public review. AND, now, instead of building then selling. They are going into property management because they can earn 3x the rental income from these than a traditional development. McGinn, Richard Conlin, and Diane Sugamara know this is going on and know they are exploiting loopholes and have stated they will wait and see. WE will not an vote them all out next election.

Comment from sue corcoran
Time January 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Mayor McGinn —

I went to the Apodments to check on an apartment to rent for my sister. Based on the “cheap price”. what I found was a shoebox, without a kitchen and a transient vibe. I visted three different buildings on capitol hill and both managers (Jim and Alex) had ZERO apartments available for under 900 bucks. these 595 units they tout are in the basement and never available. there might be one per building. What I saw was a shoebox, each building also had garbage issues. These apodments prey on people who have bad credit (they don’t check your credit) and who have transient situtaions — thus the three month lease. At 13th and John I walked out of the apodment, disgusted and walked across the street and rented a studio for 800 bucks in the Seward Apartments. and old world brick building. with a KITCHEN and a VIEW. Mayor McGinn — you LIVE in these crapholes. and you can ride your bike all over the hill too then cook your food in a shared kitchen then sleep in your stinky shoebox at the apodments. and how fun that you will live in a place that NEVER TAKES down it’s classless rental sign for the transients who may just be lucky enought to live there and pay way too much in rent. I can’t wait to vote you out of office. PS– I know tons of folks who work in your office and EVERYONE hates you! You are giving away our city. You are bad for density, for taxes and the reasonable expansion of our city. You will be out on your ear and I will do everything I can as a capitol hill resident and home owner to make sure the door hits you on the way out. Good bye!

Comment from DLH
Time March 12, 2013 at 11:19 am

Only folks in transition live with the minimal amount of ‘stuff’ that would fit into 170 sqft of living space, and they usually can’t afford the nearly $600’s a month developers want to extort for rent. Beyond a month or so, the clutter that accumulates in these spaces becomes a safety and fire hazard. Not a fan.

Pingback from ‘Micro’ apartments planned for the Junction area | Windermere West Seattle
Time March 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

[…] site plan filed with the city that uses the term “micros” to describe the project (here’s more on the “micro-apartments” trend). The information on file is very preliminary so there is no mention of parking plans; it appears […]

Pingback from Apodment problems solved? Prior to forum, Council member says microhousing rule changes coming | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle
Time April 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

[…] Inside a micro-apartment (Image: […]

Pingback from CHS: Prior to forum, Council member says microhousing rule changes coming | Central District News
Time April 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

[…] Inside a micro-apartment (Image: […]