Kips Bay, the East Side enclave pocked with post-war towers, has been largely protected from many of the changes that have transformed other sections of Manhattan. Neither particularly posh nor particularly gritty, nor particularly beautiful, the neighborhood is known as a good place to raise a family or fade into senescence.
But now the cloistered area is getting an unwelcome shot of vigor in the form of new micro-unit apartments. The local community board is terrified that the diminutive middle-class housing units will draw undesirable elements, bad seeds, transients.
“No matter what anyone says, we’re worried that these are going to be SROs that are run as hotels,” Toni Carlina, the community board’s district manager, told the Wall Street Journal.
The fear is totally unfounded—Ms. Carlina confessed as much when he admitted that they believed the apartments would be SROs “no matter what anyone says.” Besides size, the micro-apartments will be no different than other studios; they’ll have kitchens, bathrooms and be rented out with yearly leases. But the reaction highlights the kind of terror of the new that is prevalent in many New York neighborhoods. (The great bike share controversy is now engulfing whole corners of the city.)
But what makes the micro-apartment situation so interesting is that they’re totally designed for yuppies—the kind of people whom even the biggest fuddy-duddys usually love to welcome to the neighborhood. (Families are debatably more desirable, but then, there are always those who will complain about children.)
With rents that start at $914 a month and will probably go well beyond $2,000 for the market-rate units, the micro-apartments will, it seems safe to say, be rented out exclusively to middle- and upper-middle-class tenants. To live there, residents will need to earn at least $36,560 a year to meet the rule of thumb for New York apartments that a renter’s salary should be 40 times the monthly rent.
Indeed, the relatively high costs of the apartments (40 percent of which will be “affordable” and set aside for tenants earning no more than $77,190 a year) has caused some fretting that the wee apartments won’t really be affordable at all. Affordable units will go up to $1,873 a month, less than the average Manhattan studio price of $2,000 but hardly a bargain, especially considering that while brand new, they’re only 250 to 370 square feet.
Nonetheless, SROs aren’t the only thing that locals are worried about. They also fear loitering. And vagrants! According to the Journal: “The community board is also concerned about an eating-and-drinking establishment being allowed in the building, since she said the public plaza that it will be facing has had a problem with vagrancy in the past, and residents worry that if there is a bar or restaurant open late into the night, vagrancy will once again be an issue.”
But who isn’t terrified of yuppie vagrants? Always sitting out at sidewalk cafes sipping $12 glasses of prosecco, hauling around bags of groceries from Whole Foods, pausing in public plazas to check their iPads.