Business

Boston backs development of smaller living units

The kitchen and living area of a 530-square-foot apartment at Factory 63 in the Innovation District (top). An ADD Inc. designed 300-square-foot microapartment. Critics have pressed city officlals to allow the small units to help cut housing costs.
The kitchen and living area of a 530-square-foot apartment at Factory 63 in the Innovation District (top). An ADD Inc. designed 300-square-foot microapartment. Critics have pressed city officlals to allow the small units to help cut housing costs.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff (top), Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

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Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration has begun authorizing construction of smaller rental and ownership units across the city, hoping to increase the supply of densley packed housing around public transportation stops.

The policy shift allows construction of units as small as 450 square feet within one square mile of bus and subway stops. Previously, the city only allowed construction of units that small in the downtown core, keeping a 500 foot minimum elsewhere.

The change represents a compromise with critics who have pressed for units as small as 350 square feet to help cut housing costs. So far, the administration is only allowing those units to be built in the Innovation District, where it is still testing whether they are being priced affordably.

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