Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

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.

Via New York Magazine

  • nanobean

    Actually, pretty sad that these bathroom / toilet free units can be rented at such exhorbitant rates. What is “edited” about that. What about people who cannot afford that. It’s truly mind boggling.

  • LenoxL

    this is super clever and I love how high end the finishes are! Very well priced compared to renting and furnishing a studio at $1,500/month+ and love the utilities are included. BRAVO!

  • Maggie

    One thing that would stop any discussion with me is a ‘shared bathroom’. It’s the reason I pay for my own hotel room rather than share with a friend.

    For developers of course it’s a dream. Lower costs (fewer bathrooms to build) but still with ample profits. Tell people “this is all you can afford” and many people will settle/accept that. Doesn’t mean they are happy to put up with others’ messes. They used to be the cheap public housing or tenements of yesterday, now it’s “modern city living”. It’s amazing what people can be sold.

  • AptHunter

    @Maggie – its very common in New York City to share bathrooms. People share bathrooms with roommates or strangers they meet on or craigslist so its not really an obstacle, at least in New York City.
    Plus, these bathrooms look like spas and are professionally cleaned 3 times a week which is a lot better than most shared bathroom/roommate situations. Add in the high end Italian furniture, flat screen televisions and utilities and you have a compelling product.

  • maggie crehan

    I would rather share a communal kitchen with substations than a bathroom. The rooms are plenty big enough for a private, simple bath.

  • Dana

    Can you point me 2 the source of the bean bag? or is it even a bean bag ?

  • KristinaMcGovern

    I grew up in Harlem (Hello, my family has been in NYC for three generations!) My entire family lives in a three bedroom apartment that costs the same amount as the crappy SRO’s you are promoting. When will developers like yourself start building something useful — like affordable housing that regular hard working New Yorkers can afford? You know it is totally possible! People like you are creating this real estate bubble by only building housing rich out of towners can afford. I thought the guy who launched this site also launched Tree Hugger? I guess he is only “green” when it comes to money because he certainly isn’t doing anything positive for regular middle class New Yorkers. I mean selling a former tenement apartment downtown for a million bucks?He should be ashamed of himself! Especially since he didn’t pony up a nickel for the apartment’s design or any of the features in the Life Edited apartment. I come from a long line of proud people who have served this city as police officers, firemen, city workers and even city officials. Don’t you think it’s sad that you’re pricing people like us, people who have made NYC the fantastic place it is today to live in, right out of the city we love?

  • ManhattanWriter

    There’s a good reason why SROs were phased out in the ’80s: they were not hygienic!!!