Des Moines Developers Turning To Micro Apartments


The average monthly rent downtown was $690, about $110 above the metro average. And rents have risen 12 to 13 percent over the past two years for downtown efficiencies and one-bedrooms, the survey shows.

Hubbell’s 500-square-foot micros, part of the apartment mix at Cityville on Ninth Street, just south of downtown, will rent for $600 a month. Nelson’s 400-square-foot studios at the Fleming Building on Sixth Avenue and Locust Street start at $650. Tenants move in June 1.

These aren’t your dad’s studio apartments, though.

Hubbell architect Vitus Bering of SVPA Architects and Nelson’s Dan Drendel of Slingshot Architecture say small spaces need smart designs to maximize every inch. “It’s a more efficient, economic apartment layout,” Bering said.

It means adding built-ins, like a small desk and workspace for some of the 60 micros that Hubbell plans to incorporate into its 300-apartment Cityville project. It’s also reconfiguring and rethinking traditional use of space, such as hidden coat hooks in the entryway instead of a closet, said Drendel, a project manager who helped design the Fleming Building’s micro apartments.

“A studio might have been a leftover piece of a building (in the past). … But now we’re looking at putting up to 30 percent of a floor plate into studio rentals,” said Drendel, who also is working on Nelson’s redevelopment of the Des Moines Building, which also will include micro apartments.

About half of the 400 square feet of Fleming’s micros will be devoted to the living area. Drendel said it meant making the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom areas more compact. “The living room is about as big or bigger than a typical one-bedroom apartment,” he said. “People who want to live downtown want good living areas that you can entertain your friends in, have a dinner party, or sit and watch a game.”

More apartments, regardless of the size, will help make the Des Moines market more affordable, said Eric Burmeister, executive director of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

“The average rents on all size apartments have been going up fairly meaningfully,” about 7 percent for two bedrooms, Burmeister said. “Every time we add units, it increases the supply. Basic economics tell us that should stabilize or lower rents.”

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Posted by on May 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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