Panoramic Interests

The city wants to erect a tower made of stacked, prefab 160-square-foot apartments.

If Berkeley gets its way, its homeless population could someday be living in 160-square-foot “microunits”—sort of like comfy shoe boxes that can be stacked into larger structures.

The city council unanimously voted this week to explore the feasibility of a “rapid and cost-effective” deployment of these units, which would also be available to seniors, disabled people, and the extremely poor. The goal is to site them on an unspecified parcel of city land, possibly in a stack of 100 that reaches up four stories. The rent for the units is $1,000 a month, which would be paid by the city and is well below Berkeley’s average apartment rent of $3,233.

Panoramic Interests

The city hopes to tap a private developer to finance and build the project. While it hasn’t named one yet, a good possibility is Panoramic Interests, a San Francisco-based company that claims to be able to erect a microunit tower in as little as nine months, permitting process and fabrication time included. Panoramic has been showcasing its “MicroPAD” model around California for some time, including this guy in Sacramento:

Here’s the company’s pitch:

In San Francisco alone, there are almost 7,000 people living on the streets. The MicroPAD™ was created to provide the homeless with high quality housing, quickly and economically. PAD stands for Prefabricated Affordable Dwelling, and is a fast, effective and permanent homeless housing solution. Each dwelling comes fully furnished with a private bathroom, kitchenette, armoire, desk and bed. Made from steel, with 9-foot ceilings, all in 160 square feet. These are more than a place to stay; MicroPAD™ units give homeless people a place to live.

Panoramic has already built a couple of microunit developments in San Francisco, including a car-free one with 160 wee apartments located downtown. Its owner, Patrick Kennedy, has stated he wants to provide 5,000 homeless people in the Bay Area with units in five years. However, his plan for a 200-unit building for the homeless recently hit a roadblock in San Francisco, partly due to the units being constructed in China. Kennedy plans to work with a local architect, reports Berkeleyside, and use union labor to address any such problems in Berkeley.

Panoramic Interests

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How Australia Conquered Guns, and Why America Can't

    Gun control advocates point to Australia for inspiration in ending gun violence. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, thinks they should stop.

  2. Design

    The Odd Existence of Point Roberts, Washington

    Life in a piece of America tacked on the tip of Canada.

  3. Equity

    The Rise and Fall of the American SRO

    The same cities that struggle to provide affordable housing today eliminated their critical-but-maligned flexible housing stock after World War II.

  4. The G2 parcel at Taylor Yard in the City of Los Angeles
    Equity

    Can the L.A. River Avoid 'Green Gentrification'?

    As the city rediscovers the river, the future of communities along its path hangs in the balance.

  5. A sculpture of the Airbnb logo is pictured.
    Life

    Airbnb and the Unintended Consequences of 'Disruption'

    Tech analysts are prone to predicting utopia or dystopia. They’re worse at imagining the side effects of a firm's success.