Hong Kong citizens are well aware of the small apartments that they live in. Now New York is planning to allow the construction of new buildings that have so called “micro” apartments.

Since 1987, Manhattan regulations do not allow any construction of new apartments smaller than 400 square feet (37 square meter). Now one building called Carmel Place has received a waiver to construct an entire building with micro units. Due to open in 2016, Carmel Place will consist of 55 studio apartments ranging from 265 to 360 square feet. (25 to 33 square meters). Carmel Place is the first Manhattan building that is experimenting with these micro-apartments.

While Hong Kong citizens are very aware of the small size of the apartments in Hong Kong that they live in, it is a new concept for people living in Manhattan. These micro-apartments are about half the size of a typical studio apartment in Manhattan (a studio in Manhattan is typically approximately 550 square feet). By comparison, developers in Hong Kong often sell apartments with that size as a 1-2 bedroom apartment.

Forty percent of the apartments in Carmel Place in Manhattan are intended to be part of affordable-housing program. This program allows people to rent an apartment at a low $1500 USD per month. In order to be able to secure one of these affordable apartments, applicants have to enter a lottery. 60,000 people have entered the lottery for these 22 affordable apartments in the building. The remaining sixty percent of the building will be rented out at market rent which ranges from $2650 to $3150 per month. About 20 people have applied so far for these market rent units.

Of course, there are tiny apartments in New York already. Based on Jonathan Miller who works for a New York based appraisal firm, there are about 3,000 older apartments in New York that measure less than the 400-square-foot. However, that is only 0.09% of the 3.4 mm apartments that New York currently has. Is New York now going to move towards the Hong Kong model with many more tiny apartments?