Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Big Should an Apartment Be?

Back in May, the City finally abandoned the misconception it had embraced for nine months that the bulk and area regulations in the zoning code dictated that 1,500 square feet was the minimum size for an apartment, but not before that misinterpretation had caused at least two developers to abandon plans to create new apartments in Hudson. Although it is now accepted all around that the minimum size is not (and never was) 1,500 square feet, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, has not given up the idea of establishing minimum size for new apartments created in the city. Friedman seems motivated by the desire to protect the health and well being of apartment dwellers while at the same time encouraging the creation of new rental units. The mayor, in his recent memorandum to the Legal Committee, expressed his support of this initiative:
The Mayor has read the draft proposal in regards to Zoning apartment sizes and concur with the legal committee in regards to the changes that involve apartment and studio apartment sizes being considered in the document sent to me this date for review by Attorney D. Tuczinski.
Those in government seem in agreement to do this. The challenge is to get the sizes right.

The current proposal makes 250 square feet the minimum for a studio apartment and 500 square feet the minimum for a one-bedroom apartment. In April, Gossips published the original brochure for Hudson Terrace Apartments, which reveals that a one-bedroom apartment in that complex is 387.5 square feet. Although the apartments there were completely renovated and updated in 2010, the configuration of the apartments was not changed, so, although they would be grandfathered in, every one-bedroom apartment in Hudson Terrace would be out of compliance with what's being suggested as a minimum size for a one-bedroom apartment.

Last night, at the Planning Board meeting, the people who are in contract to buy 949-951 Columbia Street presented their proposal to convert the first floor of the building, which had been medical offices, into residential apartments. (There are no plans for altering the facade of the building.)

There are currently two apartments on the second floor of the building. The proposal is to create a new one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor at the front and a new two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor in the rear. The size of the proposed apartments is 700 square feet for the two-bedroom apartment and 420 square feet for the one-bedroom apartment, putting it below the minimum size for a one-bedroom apartment now being proposed.

The amendment to the zoning code establishing minimum apartment sizes has not yet been introduced to the full Council to start its journey toward adoption, so it is likely that the Planning Board will approve what has been proposed for 949-951 Columbia Street before the new law can be enacted. It does seem, however, that more research and thought may be needed before minimum apartment sizes are codified in the zoning law.


  1. i certainly hope they will change the facade of that building at 949 because right now it is horrible.

  2. "they would be grandfathered in, every one-bedroom apartment in Hudson Terrace would be out of compliance"

    Will the city be this lenient when they rewrite coastal zoning policies?