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open up, boston | editorial

Let developers think small, creating new housing for all

For cash-strapped urbanites who see all of Boston as their playground, a tiny apartment in a convenient location is far preferable to a large one that’s farther from work, friends, and things to do. In that spirit, a group of young designers recently built a prototype micro-unit that squeezes the essentials of Boston living into an economical 300 square feet. The footprint is big enough to accommodate a normal-sized bed; a compact, all-in-one kitchenette; and even a designated storage space for a bike — something for which designers’ research showed strong demand.

The prototype, alas, is in storage, when it could be a model for thousands of smaller apartments in key locations around town. For there are two main ways to make sure people up and down the income spectrum can afford to live in Boston. One is to build up an inventory of rent-subsidized apartments, as the city has taken great pains to do. The other is to think small — to let developers build apartments compact enough that even people of modest means can afford them at market rates.

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