Micro apartments growing in popularity in KC, taking ‘tiny living’ to new level

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Micro apartments are starting to pop-up in parts of Kansas City in an effort to bring more affordable housing to the urban core.

A micro unit is defined as a 350-square-feet or smaller studio, according to the Urban Land Institute.

The New Yorker, located at 3521 Baltimore, opened in June and houses 29 apartments, nine of which are micro units.

“The building kind of lent itself to smaller units,” said John Bennett, the executive vice president of KC Lofts Central which manages the property. “We call it Kansas City’s skinniest skyscraper."

The micro units are like traditional studio apartments but on a smaller scale.

“It’s one open room where you have a sleeping area, kind of a sitting area, a small kitchen and a bathroom,” Bennett explained. “It really is like a nice hotel.”

The rent for one of the compact units starts at $525 per month and includes a laundry room with free washers and dryers, a fitness center and lounge.

“There’s a lot of people who are looking for apartments for less than $1,000 per month downtown, and there’s not a lot of supply for those,” Bennett said.

Seven miles south, near UMKC, developers with UCB Properties are building an apartment complex that will only offer micro units.

“We investigated on the East and West coasts where they’re very popular, and we happened to see this design in Singapore and copied it,” said John Hoffman, a partner of the project.

The apartments, known as Scholars Row, will feature 50 units with ceilings 16 feet high and mezzanines separating the bedroom from the rest of the space.

“It’s like living in a cabin on a ship,” Hoffman said.

The units start at $850 per month and will include free utilities and WiFi. Free parking, a fitness center and social lounges are among some of the amenities.

“We felt that we could build a small unit like this that could be affordable for younger people,” Hoffman said.

While developers believe there is a demand, a survey conducted by the Urban Land Institute found that 31 percent of conventional renters would never be interested in staying in a micro unit. Only 6 percent said they “definitely would.”

The New Yorker is fully occupied. Scholars Row, located at 5522 Troost, is expected to open in November. They’re holding hard hat tours this Saturday for anyone wanting to see the units in person.

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