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Sarasota Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 4 years ago

Density change clears the way for coffin apartments


APRIL FOOLS — After weeks of debate, a big change in density caps clears the way for much smaller housing units downtown.

On Monday, March 25, the City Commission approved the increase in downtown density from a maximum of 50 residential units per acre to 400 units, along with a maximum 20-story building height. Recently formed grassroots Citizen Residents Unite for New Community Housing (CRUNCH) backed the move.

According to CRUNCH’s founder, the goal is to incentivize developers to build closet apartments that young professionals, including restaurant staff, DJs and journalists, can afford. The apartments will range from 20 to 75 square feet, and will be modeled after Toyko’s innovative “coffin apartments.”

“There will finally be obtainable apartments for us young professionals,” a downtown bartender said after Monday’s vote.

City commissioners said they hope the change will encourage developers to build lots of the cozy, centrally-located apartment cells as the economy begins to recover.

At least one Sarasota developer already plans to take advantage of the density increase. He said his company’s “Get your own tiny slice of paradise” marketing campaign could even attract young professionals from Tampa and Naples. The chic, modern “Un Petit Sota” apartments will start at $750 a month and feature a toilet and sink and miniature clothes iron. Larger units will include porthole windows; and dogs under 4 pounds will be permitted.

The developer said the units will average 50 square feet. And what they lack in size, the apartments will make up for in location, the developer said. As of press time, the location was undisclosed.

“Most Sarasota apartments are 2,500 square feet with 10-foot ceilings he said. “We believe our professionals want something different. They want less clutter, smaller living spaces and the ability to see downtown right outside their porthole window, well, some of the tenants, anyway.”

A spokesperson for CRUNCH said Monday’s City Commission decision was a big change that will led the way for “smaller living.” Representatives from two nearby cities contacted CRUNCH Tuesday, March 26, because they were interested in finding out more about Sarasota’s major density shift.

“This is not just a Toyko trend,” the CRUNCH spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said they also heard from at least a dozen residents interested in when they could sign up for a cozier apartment in the heart of the city. An architect who works on Main Street was one of those residents.


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