Construction of the first micro-apartment building in downtown Tacoma was kicked off during a groundbreaking ceremony today, with Koz Development putting shovels to dirt on a $12.2 million mixed-use multifamily complex.

The Snohomish-based development firm has been preparing for the building since last year, with demolition at 1554 Market Street beginning in December. At completion, the building will feature 104 studio apartments — each equipped with a Murphy bed and convertible furniture — as well as 60 bike parking spaces and retail space along Market Street.

According to Ricardo Noguera, director of the City’s Community and Economic Development Department, the building is aimed toward millennials, students and flexible professionals who are looking to locate in the growing heart of Tacoma.

 “I think it’s very important, especially since we’re promoting walkability and trying to move away from the automobile, and we have the Link light rail expanding,” he said. “And it’s attractive for builders, too. Connecting more with millennials, leveraging off the expansion of the University (of Washington-Tacoma), which now I understand has 5,400 students, a developer now does not have to build parking. That saves between $3-$5 million on their construction budget.

“We’re creating an environment where both university students and future Convention Center hotel workers will be able to walk to work and not have to drive a car,” he added.

Koz took advantage of a pair of local incentives —the Transfer of Development Rights and 12-year Multifamily Property Tax Exemption — to make the development a reality. And with other micro-apartment projects on its roster, the company has been able to furnish the building in a cost-effective fashion.

“With approximately 1,000 units in our pipeline, we are able to acquire furnishings below market including a bed that folds up into the wall and tables that convert from a coffee table, to a desk, to a dining room table,” said Joshua Scott, vice president of design & construction at Koz. “The ability to purchase items at a discount has allowed us to offer lower rents to our residents.”

“We are very proud of our mission and commitment to provide affordable, non-subsidized housing for those individuals that embrace the concept of minimalism and financial freedom,” said Koz President and CEO Cathy Reines. “We believe this project will further the vibrancy of Downtown Tacoma encouraging students and the Tacoma workforce to live near where they study, work and play, while saving money and potentially living car-free.”