• Some micro unit developments are being constructed on an offsite, modular basis.
  • Most micro unit developments in the Bay Area are within San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood.
  • Larger developers, like Equity Residential, are now blending micro units into projects.

In the Bay Area, the epicenter of micro unit development is San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood; however, projects that feature sub 400-square-foot studios are now rising up in the Silicon Valley.

In Sunnyvale, a 58-unit micro development recently reached completion. Featuring 370-square-foot studios, the project is said to be the first tax credit-financed, modular-built workforce housing project in Northern California, according to the project’s designer San Diego-based Studio E Architects.

Owned and managed by Charities Housing, the development’s units were built offsite by ZETA Communities in a warehouse near Sacramento. In total the community, which rests on the site of a former National Guard Armory, cost nearly $13 million to construct.

This project represents the second micro unit development designed by Studio E in the Silicon Valley, as the architect was also behind a 41-unit community in San Jose. Units at that development average 285 square feet, with 40 percent of the studios intended for extremely low-income residents and the remaining reserved for low-income individuals.

In its home market of San Diego, Studio E also designed a 17-story, 250-unit development that features a combination of micro units, standard studios and one bedrooms. This project reached completion last year.

SoMa’s development plan encourages micro units

As mentioned, the majority of recently completed or proposed micro unit projects in the Bay Area are concentrated within San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.

Late last year multifamily REIT Equity Residential acquired three parcels in the neighborhood with plans to construct a 13-story tower, which would include 60 micro units ranging in size from 290 to 408 square feet. The project will also feature a mix of traditional studios along with one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

Later this year, a 42-micro unit project is slated to break ground within the neighborhood on Folsom Street. Designed by San Francisco-based David Baker Architects the development will feature units ranging in size from 290 to 350 square feet.

Developer Panoramic Interests is currently proposing a 246-micro suite project at the western edge of the neighborhood adjacent to the Mission District. Panoramic possesses a portfolio that already includes several micro-unit projects in SoMa, a 11-story community across from Twitter’s headquarters and a 23-unit prefabricated/modular development.

Email Erik Pisor

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