SRO 2.0 Hits Harlem

SRO Conversion in Harlem
© Elizabeth Dooley

There are many merits to the SRO (single room occupancy). Throughout the 20th Century, the once-common, small and spartan apartments provided affordable urban dwellings for people looking for basic living accommodations. Unfortunately, in the latter part of the century, they became synonymous with drugs and graft. As neighborhoods gentrified, the unseemly SROs were excised from most cityscapes. Their demise left a gap in urban dwelling typology: i.e. the affordable crash pad. A nearly complete project in New York City is bringing back the SRO, albeit from decidedly 21st century perspective (and price).

The project, dubbed PAD, is being developed by Weissman Equities, and is set to rent. They have converted five units in a Harlem SRO building; sizes range between 175-225 sq ft. Rather than throwing a cot and a heating plate in the rooms, the company has outfitted them with furniture from Resource Furniture, which give the tiny places big functionality. Units will include Resource Furniture's Ulisse bed/sofa and shelves, a desk and cabinets by Clei. A flatscreen TV, kitchen and all utilities are also packed into $1400-1600 rents.

True to SRO form, the one thing the apartments don't include are private bathrooms (excepting the one $1600 unit). They will share 2.5 common bathrooms, which are professionally cleaned three times per week.

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SRO 2.0 Hits Harlem
Does this SRO conversion provide relief for NYC's housing shortage or provide more of the same in a smaller package?

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