Condo City

New micro-apartments in East Austin signal growing trend of tiny spaces

New micro-apartments in East Austin signal trend of tiny spaces

East Austin east side
New micro-units are coming to East Austin. Nick Mickolas/ Flickr

Another mixed-used development is popping up in East Austin, this one with a twist. Spire, a 260-unit building featuring residential and retail space, will be built on the corner of East Fifth and Waller streets, Community Impact reports.

What makes this project unique, however, is its emphasis on micro-units, small residential units with floor plans less than 400 square feet. 

Micro-units are an urban housing trend found everywhere from San Francisco to Manhattan to Tokyo. As more people ditch the suburbs for the city center, they bring with them a demand for better mass transit, eco-friendly living options and access to entertainment districts. Couple that growing trend with the millennials' penchant for putting off marriage and the baby boomers' desire to ditch the retirement communities for urban living, and you have a whole bunch of people looking for housing in urban cores. 

Here in Austin, the trend is no different. Our city's astronomical growth is a healthy mix of young upstarts and retirees looking for a cool place to live out their golden years. Unfortunately, the city-wide driving habit and lack of truly dynamic mass transit options have caused Austin City Council to hesitate changing the city code to allow for less than one parking space per apartment (a traditional benchmark of micro-unit housing developments). 

Considering its proximity to the Plaza Saltillo development, downtown and East Sixth Street, the Spire's location offers the desirable mass transit options and access to entertainment districts so many people desire. In addition to its residential units, Community Impact says Spire "will offer 6,500-square-feet of retail and live-work space along East Fifth Street" as well as an underground parking garage.

Along with many of the mixed-use developments currently slated for the east side, Spire also has plans to offer low-income housing units for residents who earn 50 percent to 70 percent less than Austin's median income ($52,800 for an individual, $75,400 for a four-person household). 

Construction on Spire will begin in 2016.