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America's First Ever Shopping Mall Becomes Micro-Unit Development

Built in 1828, the first US indoor shopping mall, the Arcade in Providence, RI, has been renovated and turned into 48 micro-apartments.

The tiny lofts (from 225 SF to 275 SF) sit right where the shops used to be, behind the mall's Greek-style columns and central atrium.

The micro-units' $800/month price tag (quite pricy for Providence) comes with an elevated twin bed over a four-drawer dresser, a 50-inch flat-screen TV and a kitchenette. "Our tenants only need to show up with two suitcases, and they are good to go," says Michael Abbott, principal at Northeast Collaborative Architects, which redesigned the space.

The central atrium hosts a number of shops, bars and restaurants, acting as a "public street connecting neighbors," Abbott says. The top floor of the complex includes a common room with arcade games and a TV, while washers and dryers are on the second floor.

The micro-unit trend only gets bigger, and it allows developers to be more efficient with space and offer more affordable housing. [BI]