Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Koreanization of America: SF, NYC, and LA discover officetels

Anyone who has lived in Seoul or any big city in Korea knows all about the "officetel" apartments, small units equipped with a private bathroom and kitchenette that could be used as either an office or a private residence for an individual (or an extremely cozy couple). Hence the neologism officetel (office + hotel). 

They're not for everybody, but if you want something close to the city center, often with a great view, and not too big and not too expensive either, then officetels are great. 

But in America, where cities tend to be more horizontal than vertical and where spacious living is seen as a God-given right, would this fly? I'm not so sure, if they think a 220-foot unit should run for $1200 to $1500, since that takes the "affordable" element out of the equation (I'm not too familiar with the San Francisco housing market, but it sounds comparable to uber-pricey Waikiki and much of the rest of Honolulu).

Hmm... Maybe I'm charging too little for my own place. 

San Francisco considers 220-square-foot micro-apartments -

SAN FRANCISCO — The tiny apartments are touted as "affordable by design."

New York City has launched a pilot project to test them out. Boston is doing it too. But here in San Francisco, where a growing number of residents are being priced out of the housing market by a revived tech economy, city leaders are considering the smallest micro-units of all.

At a minimum 150 square feet of living space — 220 when you add the bathroom, kitchen and closet — the proposed residences are being hailed as a pivotal option for singles. Opponents fear that a wave of "shoe box homes" would further marginalize families of modest means who are desperate for larger accommodations.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider tweaking the city's building code, which requires newly constructed units to be at least 290 square feet.

The number of micro-units that could be built under the proposal would not be capped, although critics are pushing for controls on the experiment. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, for instance, has signed off on just 60 apartments that would be 275 to 300 square feet small.

Patrick Kennedy — a Berkeley-based developer who in November will unveil a building with 300-square-foot units in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood — has said he hopes to build several thousand even smaller models.

The mini-apartments' schematics include window seats that convert to spare beds and beds that transform into tables. Bay windows offer sweeping views.


1 comment:

  1. Well, if more urban hipsters or single professionals is what San Francisco wants, I guess this is an affordable way to attract them. But that town has a growing reputation for being hostile and unaffordable to families with children, so it's hard to see what kind of future for the city developments like these will provide.


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