SRO 2.0 Hits Harlem
We’ve talked a lot about the merits of the SRO (single room occupancy). Throughout the 20th Century, the once-common, small and spartan apartments provided affordable urban dwellings for people looking for basic living accommodations. Unfortunately, in the latter part of the century, they became synonymous with drugs and graft. As neighborhoods gentrified, the unseemly SROs were excised from most cityscapes. Their demise left a gap in urban dwelling typology: i.e. the affordable crash pad. A nearly complete project in New York City is bringing back the SRO, albeit from decidedly 21st century perspective.
The project, dubbed PAD, is being developed by Weissman Equities, and is set to rent. They have converted five units in a Harlem SRO building; sizes range between 175-225 sq ft. Rather than throwing a cot and a heating plate in the rooms, the company has outfitted them with furniture from Resource Furniture, which give the tiny places big functionality. Units will include Resource Furniture’s Ulisse bed/sofa and shelves, a desk and cabinets by Clei. A flatscreen TV, kitchen and all utilities are also packed into $1400-1600 rents.
True to SRO form, the one thing the apartments don’t include are private bathrooms (excepting the one $1600 unit). They will share 2.5 common bathrooms, which are professionally cleaned three times per week. While this might be a dealbreaker for some, Seth Weissman told New York Magazine’s Wendy Goodman that privacy for many New York City renters is not a big priority nowadays, stating:
We saw a shift in how people were living and adapted the existing housing stock to meet their needs. For example, tenants are putting up walls in living rooms and dining rooms to lower the rent and create private spaces with a shared bathroom. People are more willing to share bathrooms and kitchen spaces with strangers.
Implicit in that is people will forsake private spaces for affordability. And while $1400 might sound like a lot to non-New Yorkers, this is not a ton of money for an all-inclusive, private studio decked out with high end Italian transforming furniture. As a point of comparison, the average, non-doorman studio in Harlem now fetches more than $1500/month.
With many cities experiencing major spikes in rental prices, the need for creative living situations–ones that meet the actual needs of their inhabitants–will be crucial in the coming years. We applaud Weissman for creating such a situation. We look forward to checking it out soon.