Micro units: Perfect pad, imperfect price

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By Renee Loth | The Boston Globe | November 24th, 2012

AERON HODGES is a small woman, but if she stretches out both arms she can embrace the whole kitchen in the compact “innovation unit” Mayor Menino is promoting to attract young workers to Boston’s newest neighborhood. Designed by the architecture firm ADD Inc, the apartment is sleek and sculpted, with cool features like convertible storage and a wall mount for the inevitable Geekhouse bicycle. It’s likely to be popular with young, single employees of the biotech and financial companies coming to the Innovation District, and with retirees looking for an urban pied-à-terre. What it is less likely to be, regrettably, is affordable.

A full-scale model of the micro unit — all 300 square feet of it — was on display recently at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Hodges and her colleagues built the model in conjunction with Menino’s “ONEin3’’ initiative (named for the 30 percent of city residents who are between the ages of 20 and 34). “The most exciting part of the process is the collaborative nature of the construction itself,” she said, perfectly summarizing the culture of this demographic.

Over several months, the ADD Inc team asked young professionals what they would sacrifice to afford living downtown. Few wanted granite countertops or hardwood floors. Only 30 percent said they thought 300 square feet was too small; most would trade space for a shorter commute. They wanted to be close to public transit, hip restaurants, and their jobs. Read More

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