Will Mini-Homes Become a Reality in DC?
Is 400 square-feet or less the next big thing? Will mini-homes become a reality in Washington DC? It's a trend to ponder, given the lack of available new space to develop. We've seen a lot of interesting ways to convert commercial structures into residences but at what point will a developer take the big plunge and produce a condo project dedicated entirely to legitimate micro-living?
Billed as the nation's first tiny community, Boneyard Studios is the creation of a group of like-minded DC residents who purchased a vacant urban alley lot and began constructing 150 to 200 square-foot homes in an effort to showcase what could become an alternative way of space-conscious living. So far, there are only four of these homes, costing from $20,000 to $50,000 each. They're cute but the process hasn't yet progressed past the novelty stage.
For the most part, mini-homes in the United States have been luxury, design-centric projects for those desiring a minimalist change in their lives. They can be adapted cargo containers, tiny tree houses or cubist structures that look more like art than housing. These fun little dwellings make for great photo shoots but they don't really have much to do with a larger-scale solution to overcrowding.
If you want to get a real idea of the mini-home market check out Japan where urban space has long been at a premium. From one-room apartments to tiny detached Neo-Modern houses, the Japanese are serious about saving space. The movement may be spreading. NYC's Mayor Bloomberg recently requested a proposal for an apartment building with 75% micro-units measuring 300 square-feet.
Given the emphasis that Washington's planners have placed on smart urban growth, the compact movement seems inevitable. So far it's been mostly conference room talk and designer sketches. Will mini-homes ever become a reality in DC? It will take a committed effort to a development project that truly tests the open market. In other words, build it and they will come.
Andre Perez | District One Properties LLC | Realtor/Agent/Owner
1305 Leslie Ave, Alkexandria, VA 22301