Demographic shifts, network-driven social trends, economic prosperity, and technological innovations all contribute to a wave of re-urbanization in U.S. burgeoning metropolitan cores. Those moving to metropolitan cores prefer urban life within interconnected physical, social, and economic networks. Recent data indicates that in 2013 alone U.S. urban region experience a 2.3 million increase in population (Badger 2014); and in 2015, more than one third of workforce was composed of the millennials aged from 18 to 34 (Matthews 2015). Facing the eroding affordability of rental units from an increase in demand and lack of supply in urban regions, residential real estate developments composed of living units 375 square feet (sq.ft.) or less and modular units are gaining traction as a potentially effective solution to addressing limited housing supply and urban rental affordability.

This paper includes three sections. First, it dissects development patterns in order to understand the types of products that are being created, their physical characteristics, and the different strategies imbedded in the current micro-housing development. Secondly, it examines the urban context structure of the micro-housing development, comparing it to conventional market-rate apartments. Finally, it establishes a set of analytical metrics in order to evaluate the potential of micro-units and their development to be tested as a possible future residential development model. Through empirical data, statistics, and a series of spatial analyses, including GIS mapping and regression modeling, this research intends to shed light on how micro-unit and micro-housing residential developments are emerging as social and economic catalysts to foster a unique phase of urban revitalization that is grounded in the synergetic fusion of place, community and innovation in a shared economy.