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Micro Apartments Being Built Inside Indoor Mall

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Have you ever heard of the Providence Arcade in Rhode Island?

It’s America’s oldest indoor shopping mall which was built in 1828.

This mall has been a national landmark since 1976 and it was re-done in the 1980’s.

I was happy to find out that they’re adding 38 micro apartments to the mall!


The mall also has micro retail spaces available.

The owner, Evan Granoff, saw an opportunity to create affordable housing for people who want it.

Rent starts at just $550 a month for the micro apartments and $1000 a month for the small retail spaces.

I think they’ll get rented out really fast, how about you? Do you think we could use more small spaces like this throughout the country? I sure do..

Video: America’s Oldest Indoor Mall Builds Micro Apartments

New York City isn’t the only place where micro studios and apartments are being considered by developers and investors. With big demand for small spaces, I predict we’ll continue seeing more tiny homes become available.

Photos and Floor Plans of the Arcade Providence Micro Apartments

Kitchen in Micro Lofts inside Mall Storage in Micro Loft Apartments Floor Plan for Micro Apartment inside Mall Floor Plan for Unit 306 Micro apartment Most Common Floor Plan in the Apartments at the Arcade Mall

Photo Credits: ArcadeProvidence.com

More floor plans, photos and information on these micro apartments are available at the developers official website at ArcadeProvidence.com.

Big thanks to one of our readers, Don Woods, for sending us the original story.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 23 comments… add one }
  • alice h
    February 18, 2013, 10:41 am

    Absolutely brilliant use of urban resources! I bet there are lots of malls or giant chain store buildings out there that could be reconfigured, though likely none as gorgeous as this one. I’ve often thought some of the big empty retail spaces in my neighbourhood could be partitioned into smaller shops in a sort of permanent indoor market for crafters, farmers and small shops of various types but never thought of adding a housing component. The layout of this mall makes it perfect. Some of the larger modern malls could even have indoor gardening spaces available. Lots of possibilities.

    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:29 am

      I’d like to see more of this too. It’s a pretty convenient place to live. You wouldn’t have to cook that much because you can walk to the food court. And I also agree it’s so great for entrepreneurs/artists to have more opportunities to rent smaller and more affordable retail spaces. Anyway glad you liked this!

  • Diane
    February 18, 2013, 11:10 am

    It’s so amazing that there are developers out there who are willing to save amazing old buildings and try to modernize while still keeping the spirit of the old structure. I hope it turns out well!

    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:30 am

      I agree, it was nice to see this for me too because most developers aren’t so caring and thoughtful like this one. Hope we have more people like this on the rise!

  • Cahow
    February 18, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Brilliant beyond measure! NOW you’re finally talking!!!! I’ve seen waaaay too many videos on youtube with I.D.I.O.T.S. renting “broom closets” in Manhattan that have NO bathroom and/or NO kitchen and the prices range from $800 to $1000 for that squalor. I’ve always dreamed of winning a giant lotto prize and doing this same thing in the urban areas of Chicago, where we have SO many abandoned warehouses, etc. I’d give this developer a giant hug & kiss, if I could, for putting his thinking cap on and making a truly livable HOME!

    This is a point I’ve NEVER understood: WHY do folks who are into Tiny Houses flat out refuse to tap into the knowledge that’s out there for a livable space and do without a kitchen/bathroom? All it takes is 30 minutes of downloading floor plans from any of a thousand RV places and then mirror the floor plan in your 8’x10′ or 8’x30′ dwelling. I lived in a camper on a truck for FOUR YEARS while I was attending Uni and it had 100% of Life’s Pleasures: a two division sink; 3 gas burners; frig/freezer; queen bed over the cab; storage and dining room table/couch. This was all in an 8′ x 9′ area or 72 square feet. It was my grandparents way of having me attend Uni in Portland and for me to still have my own space. (it sat in their driveway.) Since college students (that want to get ahead) do nothing but sleep and study, it was flawless for me. And I didn’t have to take a dump in a bucket, use my granny’s shower or eat peanut butter from a jar because there was no kitchen!

    There are so many wonderful ways his model could help humanity: homeless people; college students; recently divorced; transplants; victims of natural disasters. My only hope is that the cost stays LOW and it doesn’t become a bidding war. THANKS, Alex, for posting this enlightening and positive article. 🙂

    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:32 am

      Wow, thanks! I’m really glad you enjoyed it so much. Your comment just made my day.

  • Carolyn B
    February 18, 2013, 2:57 pm

    Alex, I thoroughly enjoyed the Youtube video and this story. Glad another developer has got his priorities straight enough to combine housing & retail. I hope other developers see his success & mimic it across the country for those of us who like small or tiny, on-grid housing.

    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:33 am

      Me too Carolyn. It’s really encouraging. I’m glad that one of our readers, Don, pointed this story out to me.

  • Cahow
    February 18, 2013, 5:50 pm

    I followed the link, hoping that they’d have floor plans, but alas, there were none. Can some Super Sleuth dig up a link?

  • TomLeeM
    February 18, 2013, 7:45 pm

    I think it is a great price for a cool little apartment. I think that it is part of the historic mall is a definite plus. I agree, it will get rented out very quickly.

    It would be neat to see other places having these too. I would not mind renting one of these.

    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:37 am

      I think they’ll rent out really fast too. I mean you could potentially work, live and go out to eat within walking distance of your house. That makes life pretty nice I think.

  • Jenifer
    February 19, 2013, 2:42 am

    As an entrepreneur, I can see *real* potential with this.

    I could imagine that a group of students with real entreprenuerial spirit could get a business plan, a small business loan, and start some great shops (particularly, I imagine, the students from Rhode Island School of Design who might be in textile work, clothing, etc).

    I recently helped a group of artists with a business model and plan where their “front of house” shop is about 90 sq ft, and their shared-space workshop in the back is about 350 sq ft. They make decorative items for home, pottery, jewelry, clothing, bedding/pillows/etc — a lot of creative, one-of-a-kind items.

    The place that they rent is about 4x the price (in the downtown where we live), and their housing is even more. This could provide a great creative, live-work environment for so many young people.


    • Alex
      February 19, 2013, 11:40 am

      Great idea Jenifer. Thanks for sharing!

      I could see it working, also, with retail space that’s been vacant for a while. In my town there is plenty of it.

      I wonder how feasible it would be to convert some of these retail spaces to small/affordable housing.

      There’s a new shopping center in my town where they’ve done this but it’s all high end/luxury and- not small at all.

  • Cahow
    February 19, 2013, 1:41 pm

    For student houseing in a very urban area, this would be fantastic! In Chicago, proper, my daughter’s friend pays….wait for it…$2000.00/month…for housing associated with Columbia College! Now, a meal plan is included but unless you have Mr. Carson, the butler, serving you squab on hand-cultivated Wild Rice, I don’t see how you can eat $1,000 worth of food FOR ONE PERSON, per month! You can’t sneak anyone onto the campus housing because there is a guard and you must swipe an I.D. card to get past him, so phony ones won’t work. There are 100’s of thousands of empty office/retail square footage in the Loop; this way, it would preserve nice buildings, save college students dough and revitalize urban areas. Win-Win, in my book!

  • Cahow
    February 19, 2013, 2:01 pm

    You know what they say, “If you want something done, do it yourself!” LOL I really wanted to see floor plans for this dream, so I went ‘a-searchin’ and I found them!!!! With Alex’s permission, here is the link to the actual site:

    http://www.arcadeprovidence.com/micro-lofts/?show=gallery The photo of the floor plan is the 1st photo of the 3 part slide-show. It is a GENIUS design. I swear, if I were 45 years younger, I’d be SO into living in one of these. Another great use of this size would be at resorts, where people go to spend 90% of their time, outside. In a small part, this reminds me of a place I stayed at in Breckenridge, where we only came back to the micro-unit to sleep and change clothes. The only difference is that there was a spiral staircase to the sleeping loft.

    And, THIS is what you get with your new digs:
    •One-bedroom units from 225-450 sq. ft.
    •Kitchen with nearly full-sized refrigerator, sink, dishwasher and microwave
    •Full bath with shower
    •Built-in beds, seating and storage
    •Gathering spaces including a common room with flat screen TV, game room and porches
    •Bike access: Outside ramp brings rider directly to bike storage room
    •Additional lockable storage on basement level
    •Coded security access for residents
    •On-site laundry facilities
    •Convenient access to public transportation
    •Downtown conveniences including restaurants, theaters, shopping, art and culture, music and entertainment, gyms and car rentals
    •Parking available at Arcade Garage for a monthly fee
    •Guest parking passes available for a fee

  • Cahow
    February 19, 2013, 2:19 pm

    For those that are interested, a couple of more things.
    Here are two links to floor plans for the 2nd and 3rd floors. You click onto whichever unit you want to see, and a pop-up box will display that floor plan. Cool beans! You can also download the floor plans but I don’t know if it’s for individual units or the entire floor! :0


    And for those of you near the New York area, this looks to be a VERY fun event: “The Museum of the City of New York is featuring Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, organized in conjunction with Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC). The exhibition, which runds through September 2013, offers insights into how New York City’s changing social, economic, and cultural lives, especially the rise of single adults, are re-shaping urban households, and how design can help re-shape the city’s housing stock for New Yorkers at all phases of their lives.

    The exhibition will present an array of innovative architectural solutions that could better accommodate the city’s emerging housing needs. Making Room will feature a full-scale, “micro-apartment,” fully furnished with transformable furniture, along with other proposals to provide new housing options for a 21st century population – including shared housing for single adults and modified homes for extended families – as well as a look at real-life examples pioneered in other cities around the world as they face growing populations and changing family structures and new environmental realities.

    The “micro-apartment” featured in the exhibit is currently the model for the new lofts in Providence’s historic Arcade. ”

    P.S. Alex, hope you don’t mind the multiple posts. 😉

  • LaMar
    February 23, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Well it is about time someone seen the need for micro apartments for people that want accessibility to the benefits of city living without the huge expense of a traditional apartment.

    These remind me of the college apartment I lived in and are perfect for a single person or young couple or even a retired person.

    Good use of space and conveniet to shopping and for an entrepreneur you wouldn’t have far to travel if your business is below your house.

    It would be better if they included some green space, a small park and maybe a dog exercise yard and a place for people to grow a small garden.

    That is a vision for a sustainable future and it preserves these great old buildings.

    Now if he puts solar panels on the roof he could even give them free power!

  • February 23, 2013, 2:47 pm

    Not only students/artists/entrepreneurs would find these apartments a perfect solution, but so would seniors (who, of course, could be students, artists and/or entrepreneurs too). Thanks for the links, Cahow!

  • Cal 20 Sailor
    February 23, 2013, 9:30 pm

    Brilliant idea! Hope it catches on everywhere! Just too bad neither of the floorplans here shows stoves in the kitchens… Microwaves and hotplates would help, but I would consider at least a small range essential, unless the mall residents will be eating out or ordering takeout all the time…

    • Cahow
      February 24, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the links, LaVonne. 🙂

      Cal 20: I agree about the range! I couldn’t live ANYWHERE without a proper stove, both with burners and oven. Without one, you’re forced to buy!buy!buy! salty, calorie-laden food…how does THAT save money? Instead of a stupid dishwasher, which each unit has, put in a stove!

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