Pacific Northwest Magazine
THE SMELL of garlic rises from the frying pan as two women in flannel pajama pants and beige slippers sauté shrimp and noodles on a range top in a shared kitchen just inside the main entrance to the apartment building.
As they cook, a steady stream of sneaker-clad tenants, some walking dogs, stride down the hall toward the elevator. They barely glance into the kitchen despite the pungent aromas and the conversation taking place around the square, steel table that dominates the room.
The women make fast work of the cooking, then quickly clean up and head back to their apartment to study over steaming bowls of noodles.
“They’re the only ones I’ve seen use the kitchen, but then, I really don’t use the physical space that much,’’ says Jesse Yem, 21, a psychology major at Seattle University who has lived here for five months. “I come here to sleep, and that’s about it.’’
In fact, he’s home now only because he got a rare break between school and work as a part-time IT assistant, and returned to take a shower. His typical routine: “I get home from work, relax a little bit, go to sleep, wake up and go to class.” His meals usually consist of ramen, bagels or all manner of sandwich.
Yem, whose thick black hair hangs over sleepy eyes, occupies one of the 92 micro-units at Alder Flats, a clean, modern, seven-story complex that occupies a city block between 10th and 11th streets on the edge of First Hill, a few blocks from Seattle U, where old multifamily housing once sat.
It’s Yem’s first venture in solo living, and he’s still adjusting to the silence and the cost of living: $1,000 for 200 square feet, utilities and Wi-Fi included.
It’s a lot for a small space, but in pure dollar terms, it’s a deal, he says. Other complexes nearby rent for hundreds more, don’t include utilities and usually rent to people with established credit or rental histories.
Swenson Say Faget has designed more than 25 micro-housing projects in the Capitol Hill and University Districts of Seattle. We frequently work with the following companies: Calhoun Properties, ECCO Design, Footprint, HyBrid Architecture, Janette APD, Koz Development, La Serena Holdings, Natural and Built Environment, and Johnson and Carr.
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