Chances are, you’re not friends with your neighbors. Maybe you nod and occasionally trade comments about each other’s dogs, but past that, it’s a nonexistent relationship. But a new boom in micro-units—classified in SoFlo as apartments smaller than 550 square feet—is changing the way you socialize with the people next door.
Several high-profile micro-unit developments are already on the way in Miami—most notably Wynwood 25 (227 NW 24th St), one of three Related Group projects, which broke ground in July. Wynwood 26 (51 NW 26th St), a joint venture with Block Capital Group, and Wynwood 29 (2828 NW First Ave), a partnership with developer Tony Cho, are scheduled to break ground as soon as this year. But they’re a lot more than just cramped versions of stoic urban high-rises: These stand-alone communities are meant to get you out of your home rather than encourage you to stay in it.
“This generation’s social life is mostly outside. We understand they can manage on a smaller size,” says Ron Gottesmann of NR Investments, the company behind Canvas and Filling Station Lofts in the Arts and Entertainment District. It’s also planning a micro-condo project in the area with a series of amenities that foster community. “We want to create a connectivity of people who live in the building with coworking spaces, gyms and places to listen to music.”
For Brian Koles of Property Markets Group (PMG), whose Vice project in Downtown Miami (230 NE Fourth St) is slated to open August 2018, micro-unit dwellings boil down to behavioral economics: Experiential purchases are more valuable than material goods. “People are a lot more experience-driven now,” says Koles. Tenants of Vice’s 464 units will have built-in reasons to socialize. “Property managers are tasked with planning social events. It gives everyone an excuse to meet their neighbors and live better lives outside their apartments.” The concept of a small living space and social programming may sound familiar to anyone who spent time in a university residence hall. And that’s not the only idea borrowed from the college experience. PMG also offers leases on single rooms in multibedroom apartments, effectively creating a social environment inside the home as well.
“We’re trying to do what student housing does but for grown-ups,” says Koles. Whether Miamians, who tend to value their personal space, will embrace these intimate communities remains to be seen. And in an era when many people have no idea who lives next door, micro-units might shift the way we relate to our living areas—or, at the very least, give us more to do with our neighbors than talk about our dogs.
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