Carmel Place Exterior Rendering: Carmel Place 

Carmel Place in Kips Bay made headlines as New York City’s first micro-unit development, offering units ranging from just 260 to 360 square feet. The building proved popular, with over 60,000 people applying for the development’s 14 below-market rate units. Applications are also in for more than half of the remaining market-rate apartments.

This February, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council may vote on new zoning changes, allowing for more building units smaller than 400 square feet. This could mean the end of the case-by-case waiver system that allowed for Carmel Place — and the beginning of a wave of new micro-apartment construction.

Rachaele Raynoff, Press Secretary of the Department of City Planning, said that the zoning changes could “provide greater flexibility in the sizes of units to better serve a more varied population in response to need and market demands.”

In 1987, the City passed the ordinance preventing developers from creating units smaller than 400 square feet — an effort to prevent overcrowding and stress on City infrastructure. Currently, there are about only 3,000 micro-units in NYC, all in buildings that are not exclusively filled with micro-units. Some are illegal modifications to existing units, but most are simply apartments built before the ordinance.

In a recent video from Associated Press, Christopher Bledsoe, the architect behind Carmel Place said, “A small space does not necessarily have to mean a degradation in quality of life.” Space in a unit is just one element, one attribute, that goes into defining the overall living experience.”

The Department of City Planning invites public feedback on upcoming zoning initiatives, including its policies related to quality, affordability and inclusion.

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