While much of the discussion about micro units has centered on Gen Y's young professionals, developers and architects behind a new micro-unit community in Chicago’s West Loop are instead targeting workforce renters.
Lake Street Studios, financed in part by low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), is slated for completion in November and will include 61 micro-unit apartments geared toward the working class renter.
The developer, Interfaith Housing Development Corporation, hopes workers from the growing Fulton Market Corridor will turn to the new building as an option for housing. A Chicago team from Southfield, Mich.-based Harley Ellis Devereaux designed the 10-story-building with local restaurant workers in mind.
Susan F. King, a principal with Harley Ellis Deveraux, says the need for housing is being driven by a recent restaurant boom in the Greektown and the Fulton Market areas over the last five years.
“There’s nowhere else for people on a waitress or waiter’s income that allows them to walk to their jobs [in that area],” she says. “Why shouldn’t they have an opportunity to live there too?”
Chicago has an average effective rent of $1,313 as of March, according to Dallas-based Axiometrics, a market research firm. The hourly minimum wage is $8.25 in Illinois and $4.95 for tipped employees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
In addition to being affordable, the new building is also being built eco-friendly and is expected to become Green Communities-certified, a condition of the tax-credit financing.
“With LIHTC in Illinois, you must certify under a system,” King says. “You can go with Green Communities or [National Green Building Standard] or LEED. We find Green Communities to be pretty user friendly.”
The building will also be equipped to have solar capabilities if the opportunity and funding comes along in the future to install panels. Other eco-friendly features will include an insulated envelope, motion and light sensors and a vegetative roof for residents to enjoy.
Additionally, each 300 square-foot unit, will also have unobstructed views of the city, she says.
“The views are going to be spectacular,” King says.
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.