A new, or at least revived, trend in Urban Housing is making its way to the Mile High City. Micro units, already popular in dense cities in Europe and Asia, are catching on in the United States in high density and expensive cities such as New York and Seattle. In fact, Seattle may have, by some estimates, upwards of 10,000 micro units.
Micro Units by definition are extremely small apartments. There is currently not a standard definition for the size of a micro unit, but they are commonly thought of as diminutive studios, less than 400 square feet, or about the size of a hotel room, that has a kitchen and bathroom.
The market profile for renters in such units are single professionals under the age of 30. These renters often choose a highly desirable, urban location, the ability to live alone, and lower overall rent over space. Space is maximized by using cutting edge interior design, including flexible furniture systems, moveable walls, built-ins, etc. Thoughtful window placements, use of light, and more vertical feet available with 9 or 10 foot ceilings contribute to a greater sense of space. Developers also typically include ample common space for residents to hang out with other community members. Despite a high rent value ratio (price per foot) the raw price can be 20-30% less than a conventional unit in the same area.
In Denver, The former Hotel VQ, adjacent to Sports Authority Field, in Jefferson Park, has been converted to micro units and renamed Turntable Studios. This is a brilliant conversion of this unique building. Being managed by Boutique Apartments, known for their themed buildings, turntable has a whimsical music and DJ theme.
Unlike some cities which have rules against units under a certain size such as 400 sq. ft., Denver does not. Turntable has been very well received, and I expect Denver to add more micro units in the future. Another proposed project in Rino will feature studios and 1 bedroom units, as well as a smaller percentage of micro-units.
This trend really goes hand in hand with the so-called sharing economy of Denver. You might not have a huge living room in your unit, but in the case of Turntable you get to share an expansive lounge area at the top of the building with all the other members in the community.