Tiny Home: Test Drive

Carmel Place, formerly known as My Micro NY, was the winner of the small space/tiny home competition sponsored by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2013. For the last three years, its flourishes and features — the modular units prefabricated in a factory in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard and stacked like Legos on site; its capacious common areas and windowed hallways; the humane and lovely elements of the apartments, like 8-foot windows and nearly 10-foot ceilings — have been on display, at first in renderings, and finally, in a model apartment that was tricked out last winter.

It’s a nice place for a sleepover. The 302-square-foot unit I stayed in rents for $2,670 a month, furnished, which includes convertible and small-space objects from Resource Furniture. That company’s sofa-wall bed combination called Penelope (my destiny?), made in Italy by Clei, is the linchpin of the space: a Murphy-style bed, surrounded by deep cabinets, that unfolds over a diminutive charcoal-gray sofa.

Opening and closing the bed

I spent a good half-hour practicing opening and closing that bed, which is heavier and trickier than anything Bernadette Castro ever tackled, but much, much more comfortable, because it has a proper-size mattress and a firm base. (The two photographers who had accompanied me on my mission declined to help, perhaps taking their journalistic ethics too seriously.)

The building is a trial balloon for a medley of themes: the changing demographic of a city with inadequate housing (according to the NYU Furman Center, a third of the city’s households are single people); a culture eager to make a smaller environmental footprint by paring down belongings and sharing resources; and what has become a unicorn in this city, affordable housing.

60,000 applied for units designated as ‘affordable’

Carmel Place is no affordable housing utopia, but it’s a start. While the lion’s share — 32 — of the units are market rate, with monthly rents ranging from $2,446 to $3,195, eight have been set aside for formerly homeless veterans, and 14 units are designated affordable, with monthly rents from $914 to $1,873, and for which 60,000 people applied in a lottery. One apartment has been set aside for the superintendent. Fifty percent of the building is already leased.

…but where do you put the books?!

Enjoy a short film illustrating the story at:  Tiny Home Test Drive

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