Co-living and micro units are becoming increasingly common throughout urban cities in the United Sates. Due to their smaller sizes, it is expected that co-living units will have more attainable rents, while still providing a significant number of amenities for residents that allow for high levels of social interaction. They are shown to attract young professionals that are not looking for the expense and responsibilities of home ownership and retirees looking to downsize. Attracting such residents is desirable in order to encourage the economic development of the North Beach Town Center.
Due to the small size of co-living units, they will likely house fewer people than a conventional housing unit. For planning purposes, it is estimated that a conventional housing unit has 2.5 people per dwelling unit. A report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) entitled The Macro View on Micro Units indicates that the ability to live alone is one of the primary reasons for people to move into a co-living unit. Because of the size of a co-living unit and the expectation of more attainable rents, it is more likely that they will be made up of single-person households. Because a co-living unit is roughly half the size of a conventional unit, it can be estimated that the planning impact of a co-living unit will be half (1/2) that of a conventional unit, or approximately 1.25 people per dwelling unit.
The following development applications have been approved by the Design Review Board (DRB) or have submitted a building permit application with co-living units:
1. 7145 Carlyle Avenue: 121 co-living units.
2. 6970 Collins Avenue: 20 co-living units.
3. 7114 Collins Avenue: 168 co-living units.
Total: 309 co-living units.
As discussed when Ordinance 2019-4287 was presented to the City Commission in July of 2019, the developer of the parcel located at 7140 Abbott Avenue expressed an intent to submit a development application to the DRB, before the end of the year, for a project containing co-living units. Since this project was contingent upon the approval of a requested alley vacation, by the time the developer began the formal DRB application process, 309 of the co-living units available within the pool of 312 units (for the TC-C district) were already reserved. The development at 7140 Abbott Avenue is now proposing 141 co-living units. If the cap were increased by 140 units to accommodate this proposal, the total number of proposed co-living units within the TC-C district would increase from 309 units to 450 units.
Considering the general interest in, and forward movement of, applications including co-living units within the area, the administration would again strongly recommend an increase in the overall cap of co-living units within the TC-C district. Specifically, staff recommends an increase to 550 co-living units. The modification of the density calculation in July of 2019 has increased the feasibility of co-living developments. However, without increasing the maximum number of co-living units in the district, the number of projects that can develop these units is limited. Greater flexibility relating to the number of co-living units would improve the likelihood of bringing a co-living development to fruition.
In addition to the proposed increase in the cap for co-living units, the administration is also recommending that the method of reserving co-living units within the cap be modified for purposes of clarity and equity. Currently, a reservation for these units can be made on a first-come, first serve basis, by either making an application for a (i) land use board approval, (ii) building permit, (iii) certificate of occupancy, or (iv) business tax receipt. Since the cap on units is administered under the LDRs, the Administration recommends that the land use board application process be the sole method of reservation for co-living units.
These proposed revisions are contained within the attached draft ordinance. The administration is recommending that the ordinance be referred directly to the Planning Board for review and recommendation, and transmittal back to the City Commission.