Riding the Micro Wave: One Reporter’s Short Stay in a Manhattan Micro-Unit

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At the end of July, BD Hotels comped me three nights at one of its units in Times Square for a story I was doing on the topic (see the article here).

SEE ALSO: Amid Affordable Housing Crisis, Micro-Housing Development Picks Up Steam

I stayed in one of the 45 furnished 45 Pod Pads on the 24th floor at the Pod Times Square at 400 West 42nd Street, just west of Ninth Avenue.

So how was micro-living?

I wouldn’t really know.

At 600 square feet, my one-bedroom unit was not something anyone would categorize as “micro.” It boasted an oversized bathroom, a queen-sized bed and a dining table for eight.

Granted there were some micro features like limited shelving and storage, a bedroom that was barely larger than my bed, a kitchenette with miniature appliances such as the dishwasher, the refrigerator and the microwave-oven combination.

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Schram watched TV in her spacious Pod Pad. Photo: Lauren Elkies Schram

But one of the things that Pod offers to the micro tenants (as well as the less micro ones like yours truly) is a communal experience. During my three-day stay, I ate and drank at Major Food Group’s in-hotel Polynesian tiki bar where I enjoyed tropical drinks and an inordinate amount of fried appetizers at its outdoor balcony. I hit the hotel gym, where I watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on a personal TV while I walked on one of several treadmills. I hung out in the 28th-floor outdoor lounge with its views of the Hudson River and beyond, where I snapped vista shots.

For $4,350 per month for a six-month stay to $5,655 monthly for a one-month stay in my apartment, a resident would get free electricity, cable (for two TVs), Wi-Fi, home phone line, linens, four table settings, filled salt and pepper shakers, two wine bottle openers, one pot and one pan, a cutting board, four multicolored napkins (or maybe they were small dish towels?), a coffee maker, a toaster, a partial view across the Hudson River, access to the residents-only gym (with hand towels available), a laundry room (token-operated), a conference room and an outdoor lounge. For $50 a day, housekeeping service provides a linen change.

Richard Born, the co-founder of BD Hotels, told Commercial Observer of the Pod Pads, “There’s no difference with extended stay except our units are smaller, and we are much more flexible and most of the extended-stay product out there is fairly plain vanilla. And we think we’re a little cooler.”

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There were some micro-features in the Pod Pad, like a kitchenette with miniature appliances such as the dishwasher, the refrigerator and the microwave-oven combination. Photo: Lauren Elkies Schram

These units are not a value play for renters. According to Jonathan Miller, the president of residential appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,529, and that’s for a 739-square-foot pad. Even if you tack on a $100 for a monthly gym membership and $100 a week for a cleaning person to tend to your apartment twice a week, your monthly expenses will still be less than in a Pod Pad.

But if financials aren’t an issue and one isn’t jammed with stuff, life can be sweet: I didn’t have to make my bed, I had fresh towels daily, I didn’t have to clean up my dishes, but most of all, I was free of distraction. I felt unencumbered.

Now that I’m home, that’s the thing I miss most!