By Anessa V. Cohen
Talk about monotonous—the recurring dreams I have at night are of breaking the ice on my walkway and driveway day after day, week after week, making sure that all the snow and ice is removed and then missing a spot and slipping on precisely that spot as I walk by, flying in the air for an impromptu skydive! In all probability, the majority of the town is having the same dream.
I am looking into those heated walkways and driveways that some of my clients have. I had always thought they used too much electricity to be efficient, but as far as I am concerned, after this month, efficiency can go out the window. I am now looking solely for convenience and comfort. I am sick of dreaming of cleaning the ice and snow.
Veering from the topic of ice and snow, I recently read about a new construction method that is being tested in Manhattan. Builders and city planners are constantly seeking new ways to introduce cheaper rental apartments to balance the expensive rental units more prominently found there. For years we have been hearing of all kinds of new experiments in compact housing to accommodate the Manhattanites and their lifestyles in a less financially prohibitive fashion.
Last year I mentioned construction in midtown where some apartment complexes were built with garages adjacent to each unit. A special car elevator would bring each resident’s car to their floor and individual garage space. Although it was apartment living, this luxury created the feeling of being in a private home with a garage.
In this week’s real-estate section of the New York Times, a new system of modular ingenuity was reported. Modular units starting at 300 square feet are being designed and built in factories in preparation for being “stacked,” literally like Legos. When completed, these will create small, price-efficient studio and one-bedroom apartments for a fraction of what regular step-by-step construction would cost. Owners could offer these units at rental pricing in the $2,000–$3,000 range rather than upwards of the possible $4,000–$5,000 that a one-bedroom apartment would ordinarily run.
The modular units would have some interesting details to suit the smaller size of the unit, such as a Murphy bed built into the wall that could be closed when not in use, a kitchenette rather than a full kitchen, with a double-use microwave/oven, a small wall of cabinets, and a refrigerator compactly fitted in one area.
Modular building lowers costs since everything is built in the factory—similar to the way that auto factories build cars. Even plumbing and electrical components are all built into the walls so that the unit is complete and just needs to be moved from the factory to the job site, and then stacked and connected to the units below, above, and adjacent to it.
These apartments are being geared towards singles in Manhattan who would ordinarily group together with as many as four or five roommates to rent a four-bedroom apartment and split expenses. In these modular units, a single person could afford his or her own apartment for the same amount of money as a share in the group, with the benefit of independence and privacy—even if the unit is very small.
To compensate for the small size of these modular apartments, the building owners would provide amenities such as a gym, swimming pool, rooftop garden, etc., which would add value to these units.
The city planners loved these ideas. Their thought was that if enough singles jumped on the opportunity to have individual apartments of their own, this would open up the rental market of large apartments for the use of families who until now have been having a hard time finding large apartments with affordable rents.
It should be interesting to see how this works out. I guess we wait and see what the feedback on these buildings will be after they are on the rental market for a few years. v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.