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In Atlanta, Can a Micro-Unit Development Succeed?

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In the not-too-distant future, 600 square feet might seem vast

Atlantans love their space. Big roads. Big cars. Big porches. Big yards.

So what makes a developer think a big stack of micro-apartments will fly in the ATL? Perhaps that's where the intown market is heading.

Really small apartments aren't unheard of in Atlanta. Sub-700-square-foot units are all over Midtown, and Emory Point's second phase has a handful of rentals in the range of (avert your eyes, claustrophobes) 400 square feet.

But according to Bisnow Atlanta, a company called Origin Investments is partnering with an Austin developer and hawking land in Atlanta for what could be the area's first micro-apartment project. One leader said they're picking the right cities very carefully, and that the development might blend pint-sized units with larger ones. Either way, they're aiming for the luxury market.

So who's ready to munch caviar on a Murphy bed? And how micro can you go?

Recent micro-unit proposals around the country would have units that range from about 200 to 400 square feet. People in Japan have been making do with much smaller for decades. But that's Japan.

In 2012, as San Francisco was pondering lowering its 220-square-foot residential minimum to 150, The Atlantic Cities quoted a developer who pointed out that human-confinement spaces can reach a natural limit, and that roughly 160 square feet was approaching the minimum endurable standard.

That's about twice the size of an average solitary-confinement cell.