‘Micro-unit’ apartments proposed for Short North

Columbus has plenty of microbreweries, but is it ready for micro-apartments?


The Dublin development company Stonehenge hopes so.


Stonehenge has proposed a “micro-unit” apartment complex at the southwest corner of N. High Street and 3rd Avenue in the Short North.


The six-story building would include 32 studio apartments, all of them 540 square feet — about half to two-thirds the size of a typical central Ohio one-bedroom unit.


“There’s a tremendous movement toward efficiency, that less may be better,” said Stonehenge President Mo Dioun.


“We would like to be a pioneer in that area, to test this. We believe the community is ready for a smaller residential option.”


The ground floor of the complex would include a lobby, retail space and spots for 32 Smart cars, which take up about half the room of conventional cars.


Dioun and Jonathan Barnes, the principal in JBAD architecture firm, who designed the building, said the project is a response to high demand for Short North apartments coupled with the high cost of building apartments in the neighborhood.


“This is a trend in cities where there’s a lot more pressure to develop, in New York and San Francisco,” Barnes said. “We have our own version of that in the Short North. So this was a matter of taking an idea that’s been successful elsewhere and applying it to the Short North.”


Barnes presented the design to the Victorian Village Commission last month, where it was well-received, he said.

“I think it’s great,” said commission member Marc Conte. “It’s great to use a small unit to keep the rent down for someone trying to move into the neighborhood.


“Five hundred square feet isn’t that small. It might be small in Columbus, but if you look at the micro units proposed for places like New York, they can be 200 or 300 square feet.”


Commission members’ main concerns were how the building, which would replace a small one-story building and a parking lot, would mesh with the former car dealership to the south and homes on the west, Conte said.


“We want to make sure that what’s built is compatible with the buildings next door,” he said.


Barnes and Dioun emphasized that the proposal shown to the commission was preliminary and that the final plan would be more fully developed.


If the project is approved, which would require a variance to allow for the smaller parking spaces, Dioun would like to begin construction in the spring and complete the building by the end of 2015. He said he expected apartments to rent for between $750 and $900 a month.


While older apartments can still be found in the Short North for less than $1,000 a month, new apartments top that.


At the new Hub apartment building at Hubbard Avenue and High Street, for example, rents start at $1,475 for a one-bedroom, 750-square-foot apartment and reach $2,600 for a 1,671-square-foot, two-bedroom unit.


The nearby Aston apartments, also newly opened, start at $1,245 for a 737-square-foot, one-bedroom and reach $1,910 for a 1,227-square-foot, two-bedroom unit.


While the Stonehenge project is the first in central Ohio to be billed as a “micro” apartment complex, similar, or even smaller, apartments can be found in other new Columbus buildings.


Downtown’s Atlas building, which was recently converted to apartments, includes 10 studios measuring 392 square feet.


In the Arena District, the Flats on Vine complex and Arena Crossing apartments feature 508- and 510-square-foot studios. And the new Highpoint on Columbus Commons has several studio layouts starting at 449 square feet.


Unlike those apartment buildings, however, the Stonehenge project would exclusively feature efficiency apartments.


“What is intriguing for us is promoting and creating a platform for thinking about efficiency and lifestyle,” Dioun said.


“For sustainable living, there’s a void in the marketplace.”


Article originally appeared at dispatch.com

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