Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may now be one of the wealthiest men in the world, with gracious estates scattered across the globe from Bermuda to London, but it was not always so.
Discussing the city’s recent contest to pick a developer for a new “micro-apartment” building on his Friday morning radio show, the mayor fondly recalled his own humble start in New York City, saying he is no stranger to living in small spaces.
“It’s bigger than the apartment I lived in for 10 years, or roughly the same size,” Mr. Bloomberg said of the model micro-apartment on display at the Museum of the City of New York. “For 10 years, thank you very much,” he added for emphasis.
The only difference, he said, is the new apartments are “spectacular.”
He offered praise for the often derided Murphy bed, saying it was a better alternative to a couch, which is where he rested his head in his salad days.
“I used to sleep on a couch sometimes, where you’d open the couch up and it was a pain to take the pillows off and everything and then open it up and make the bed,” he said.
He spoke of cooking meals in a small kitchen and shopping at The Door Store for cheap furnishings. To save money, he took hammer and nail in hand and built himself a shelf – albeit a defective one.
“I made my own shelves and then I stained them and then the shelves warped,” he said. “For 10 years, my books rocked back and forth. I was so annoyed with myself. I should have thought of that.”
On a more serious note, he said he hoped that the success of the micro-apartment project would lead to a broader reform of zoning laws to allow more similar developments.
There are 1.8 million families of one and two people, most in Manhattan, he said. But there are only one million studio and one-bedroom apartments.
Without a change in zoning to allow people to develop small apartments, people will take matters into their own hands, he said.
“If you don’t do this, what they keep doing is breaking up apartments illegally,” he said. And that can create dangerous conditions.