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Elyanow has lived in his micro-studio unit for seven years. More small units are in the works for New York.
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By Tina Susman
Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK--Scott Elyanow had clung to the red, long-sleeved sweatshirt with the words "Marblehead High School" for 20 years. It had softened with age, like the memory of the long-ago love who had given it to him.
But Elyanow was nearing 40, and what he had gained in years and wisdom he hadn't gained in living space--his apartment measures 275 square feet, including the bathroom, kitchen and an entryway with overhead clearance of 5 feet, 7 inches. So he took a picture of the sweatshirt for a keepsake, then tossed the worn piece of clothing into a "purge" pile, a system Elyanow has adopted during his seven years living in a so-called micro-studio apartment in New York City.
"I really, truly don't accumulate stuff," said Elyanow, a real estate agent with Citi Habitats. He lives and works in Manhattan's West Village, where the crooked, cobblestoned streets are lined with 19th century buildings famous for charming but cramped apartments.
If Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has his way, the city soon will have far more tiny apartments to accommodate a burgeoning need for smaller, cheaper living spaces.
"Today there are about 1.8 million one- and two-person households in the city, but there are only about 1 million studio and one-bedroom apartments. You notice the mismatch," Bloomberg said in July as he announced a competition for designing a building dominated by micro-studios.
The building will be part of a pilot program called adAPT NYC, which could create a new housing model for America's biggest city--showing that small doesn't necessarily mean dark, dismal and musty. The winning design must include apartments no larger than 300 square feet, including a kitchen, a bathroom with a tub, and windows that look out on air, not air shafts. The city won't pay for the construction but will provide the space: a city-owned lot on Manhattan's East 27th Street currently used for parking. The winner will be announced later in the year.
Nationwide census figures bear out what New York officials say is a trend toward solo living. In 2010, 28 percent of U.S. households were single-person; in 1950, it was 9.5 percent. In New York City, the percentage of single-person households is 32 percent.