Micro apartments may be coming to downtown WPB, courtesy of Jeff Greene
Micro apartments, smaller and cheaper than normal units, are all the rage among millennials, and billionaire developer Jeff Greene has submitted a plan to bring them to downtown West Palm Beach.
He proposes a 12-story building at the southeast corner of Banyan Boulevard and Rosemary Avenue (550 Banyan Boulevard) with 400 units, designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica firm, famous for its funky product.
The apartments will be about 450 square feet, a little more than half the size of a typical one-bedroom unit downtown. But rent will also be substantially below market: $995 to $1,200. There will be a small retail space on the ground floor, which Greene envisions as a café, deli or coffee shop, according to the plans.
Greene also submitted a plan for a 12-story residential building just a block away on the east side of Rosemary between Clematis and Datura Streets (530 Clematis Street). This project — Clematis Place — is slated for 162 conventional, market-rate units. Greene hasn’t decided yet whether they will be apartments or condos. Arquitectonica is designing this building too. Clematis Place will have 13,750 feet of retail space. Small retailers already occupy the space and may stay, Greene told The Real Deal.
Not surprisingly, the micro apartments are generating the most buzz. “There is so much demand for housing for people employed downtown who are budget conscious,” William Cummings, a commercial real estate broker for Century 21 in West Palm, told TRD. “This will appeal to young people and those employed in a support capacity for the restaurants and other retailers downtown.”
Greene said he and his wife got the idea for the micro apartments from an exhibition of them at a museum in New York City. “They had built out micro apartments with cool Murphy beds and Lazy Susans,” Greene said. “We thought that would be fun to try sometime.” He never thought he would do it in West Palm because land is plentiful there. But seeing young people doubling up in one-bedroom apartments downtown to save rent made him think it could work.
The units themselves obviously won’t be too fancy. But Greene intends to compensate for that with amenities, including a pool, a fitness center and a screening room. “It’s like an Ian Schrager hotel model,” Greene said, referring to the small rooms and copious amenities.
Clematis Place will have a pool, clubhouse screening room, business center, bicycle station and a courtyard on Clematis Street.
Jonathan Gladstone, a West Palm developer who owns the building at 539 Clematis Street, was excited to learn of the two projects. “The micro apartments are on such an overlooked corridor (Banyan Boulevard) that they could really start to build that area,” he told TRD. And Clematis Place is right at the vertex of CityPlace, the bustling retail and entertainment complex, and Clematis Street, he notes —”Main and Main,” as Greene put it.
While some critics complain that Greene is taking on too many projects at once, Gladstone said his fellow developer may create efficiency by hiring the same personnel for multiple projects.