permitted for Northwest Thurman near 23rd.
(Image: Footprint Investments)
The tiny house movement for apartment dwellers has arrived.
Think 200 to 300 square feet, and a kitchen shared with five similar units.
It’s a new milestone for the Portland area’s off-the-charts rental shortage, the third-tightest in the nation in the third quarter of 2013. And it might also be the key to a new model for apartment living that’s designed to deliver relatively affordable rents for tiny units in highly desirable neighborhoods.
The new buildings, sometimes called “aPodments” or “micro-apartments,” typically offer lightly furnished studios including a private bathroom. In order to attract tenants despite the small size, they’re located in areas with one of the hottest commodities on the real estate market right now: excellent active transportation. Portland’s first such building at 2250 NW Thurman St. proudly proclaims its Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score (88, 52 and 93, respectively).
And because each cluster of five units shares a kitchen, they duck Portland’s controversial new requirement that large apartment buildings include auto parking whether or not future residents are likely to use it.
In the City of Portland, one in four rental households doesn’t own a car.
Local transportation advocate Doug Klotz, who opposed the new rules, called the plan an interesting way of avoiding the parking minimum, which doesn’t kick in until a building has more than 30 apartments.
“It’s not 50 apartments,” Klotz wrote in an email last week. “It’s 10 five-bedroom apartments.”
The 56-bedroom building on Thurman Street has already received its building permit, The Oregonian’s Elliot Njus reported Tuesday. Last month, KATU reported that a similar one is proposed for 1525 NE 41st Avenue in Hollywood. Njus reported Tuesday that a group of neighbors are considering a legal challenge to the Hollywood project.
According to KATU, the Hollywood units will rent for $650 to $1000 each — cheap for a unit in the area but far more than usual on a square-foot basis. They’ll also offer on-site bike parking, but no car parking.
Units like these have been shaking up the Seattle housing scene since 2008.
“Some people want them — need them, in fact — and they provide housing affordably, with a tiny ecological footprint, and in walkable neighborhoods,” Alan Durning of the Seattle-based Sightline Institute wrote about them last year. “Occupancy is reportedly near 100 percent, because the price is far below that of studio apartments nearby.”
Developer Jim Potter makes a similar case.
“We’re at a price point that no one else is delivering,” Potter told The Oregonian. “It’s not for everyone, but it’s a choice, and we like offering choices.”
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.