As Tampa Bay gets more expensive, micro-apartments with robotic furniture arrive
As rental prices soar in Tampa Bay, some developers are looking for ways to get the most out of every square foot.
That’s why the company behind NICHE, a new six-story apartment complex in Tampa’s North Hyde Park, will offer 83 “micro” units, using “robotic furniture” to maximize limited space, Wingspan Development Group said in a statement. The complex will open in 2023.
Tampa was attractive because of the quality of life and continued population growth, Wingspan Development Director Jason Macklin told the Tampa Bay weather in an interview. The Chicago-based developer wanted to offer more affordable apartment options on the outskirts of downtown.
Micro units are considered spaces less than 400 square feet, Macklin said. To make the most of the limited space, Wingspan uses “space multiplication” systems, such as Ori technology.
Think about high-tech wall beds.
Ori, short for origami, was launched in 2015 and focuses on transforming living spaces through research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The company’s motto is “live big in a smaller footprint” and has grown in 25 cities. The NICHE complex is Ori’s first project in the Tampa Bay area where units will feature an expandable wall activated by a touch on a phone screen or by voice through Amazon Alexa. It can transform the living room of the studio into an office, bedroom or dressing room.
“We saw a lot of cities like [Tampa] is starting to be much more successful. But of course with success you also encounter the challenges of increased demand and rising prices per square foot, ”said Hasier Larrea, CEO of Ori.
Renters find small units attractive because they are more affordable, but they don’t want to be stuck in a “little shoebox,” Larrea said. Sales tripled for Ori during the pandemic as people were forced to stay home and had to turn their living space into a work space.
“Rents are starting to hit a point where they’re over $ 3 per square foot in downtown Tampa, which is expensive,” Macklin explained.
The complex at 1116 W. Carmen St will cost units at a similar market rate of $ 3.20 per square foot, Macklin said, but will start at less than $ 1,000 per month. NICHE will also offer 168 units ranging from studios to three bedrooms.
“There is so much demand for housing in the Tampa market right now,” Macklin said. “As a developer, you need a diverse mix of units to offer the general population and to give them choice. “
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NICHE facilities will include co-working spaces and community kitchens which can be rented or available on a first come, first served basis. It will also have a rooftop terrace with a pool, cabanas, fire pits, and downtown views. There is an indoor and outdoor gym, golf simulator and yoga studio.
The complex is next door to the University of Tampa, which has grown to have 10,500 students in 2021. Although it is not a student housing project, the developer said it is expects some of the residents to be students.
Micro-units are becoming popular with younger generations, said Tampa architect Mickey Jacob of Goodwyn Mills Cawood, especially among millennials and Gen Z who want the luxuries of city living.
The metro, an all-studio complex in the Edge district, is under construction in St. Petersburg. DevMar Development officials said they chose to offer smaller units after seeing demand for another project they were managing a few blocks away.
“What we’re seeing in the smaller units is that these buildings provide shared amenities and create social collisions that you wouldn’t normally have in your life if you put those amenities into the unit itself,” Jacob said.
More and more developers with studio projects are planning co-working spaces in the building, Jacob said. Especially since the pandemic has pushed many people to work remotely.
NICHE will be less than half a mile from downtown Tampa and two miles from the West Shore business district. It is also one block from a new protected bike path called Green Spine.
Wingspan Development is also working on Jade Apartments, a five-story complex at 608 N. Willow Ave. and will house 3,200 square feet of retail space and 192 luxury apartments.