The developers of a new communal-living development at Harrison and 12th — consisting of 235 studio units divided into nine separate "houses" — insist that it won't just be for students and young tech workers. But given the concept, and the number of newly arrived workers seeking housing, we're guessing they're going to be the dominant demographic.

Then again, it may just be a brilliant solution to the dearth of "middle-income" housing that everyone's been talking about lately, providing an affordable option to those who earn too much to qualify for most below-market, income-qualified apartments, but not enough to afford most of the new luxury rentals being built. The compromise to your dignity: You'll be sharing a kitchen and living room with dozens of people, just like in a dorm or SRO.

As the Business Times reports, the project at 1532 Harrison Street is a pioneering "co-living" development by developer Build Inc. and Embassy SF, an organization that already manages a number of these co-living concepts at undisclosed locations around the city.

Each unit will essentially be a sleeping space with a small bathroom and a two-burner stove, ranging from 327 to 409 square feet. There will be a total of 235 units, housing possibly over 500 people (in 470 separate beds, meaning every unit is a 2-bedroom?), divided into three buildings. The 235 units will be subdivided into 9 "houses," which the developer imagines could be themed around common interests or lifestyles (musicians, for instance, or LGBT people). Each house would share common kitchens and living/dining areas, college co-op style, meaning that this is not an ideal venue for introverts, or people who like to control the television.

By our estimates, each house will have about 26 units, or, potentially, around 50 residents.

Housing Action Coalition Executive Director Tim Colen says a building like this is "absolutely the response we need" to the current housing crisis. It's also going to serve a test model, probably, and will spawn more such developments if it ends up being successful.

It's unclear when construction is beginning on 1532 Harrison, what the exact price point is (they're only saying it will be "cost competitive" and aimed at middle-income earners), or when the units will be hitting the market.

As the Examiner discusses in a new editorial, "The solutions to the [current housing] problem are not simple. It is not a build vs. don’t build argument... Many nuanced approaches are in the works." This is obviously one of them. Another: micro apartments.

What do you think readers? Would you rather move to the East Bay, or share a kitchen with 50 people?

[SF Business Times]