Grist author Clair Thompson recently posted piece on a new form of microhousing dubbed “aPodments”, a trademarked term for the properties being constructed in Seattle by Calhoun Properties. These aPodments are a response to high costs of living which is particularly troublesome to young professionals who have not yet had a chance to amass any savings and who tend to live relatively transient lifestyles as they progress up the career ladder.
Seattle is not the only area to consider microhousing (which many consider to be modern boarding houses or “dormitories for adults”, but Seattle is in the midst of several controversies over their aPodments as current residents feel that long-standing codes are being exploited. Under Seattle’s current code a “unit” is considered to be an entire floor of several apartments sharing a set of amenities (such as shared kitchens) rather than each apartment. This interpretation allows developers to achieve a density that multiplies the current levels of density in neighborhoods many times what the neighbors consider to be compatible. Although aPodments are not without their fans. Roger Valdez over at Seattle Transit Blog who dubs the reaction against aPodments to be NIMBYism and highlights the economic advantages of the projects.
While it still may be too early to make any sort of forecast, the idea behind aPodments does seem to align with lifestyle trends following the pop of the real estate bubble. Back in July, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a competition to inspire designs of microhousing (which would be allowed to circumvent the current zoning minimum square footage of 450 square feet). San Francisco is examining reductions in their code requirements that would allow 150 square foot apartments.