Are Miniature Apartments the Answer to Canada’s Affordable Housing Problems?
A revitalized hotel in Vancouver is now home to what could be Canada’s smallest apartments. The 30 units, in what was once a run-down hotel, are each about 250 square feet.
Perhaps best of all, these units are much cheaper than the average Vancouver rental property.
Dubbed “micro-lofts” by developer Reliance Properties, Ltd., the project was intended to provide an answer to the affordable housing shortage in and around Vancouver.
Despite the small size, the properties offer a lot of natural light and high-end finishes designed to give a feeling of expanse. The units come with space-saving furnishings like mounted flat screen TV’s and alternating, pull-down beds and tables.
The location is key, as tenants can walk to shops, restaurants or their workplace–which is good, because there’s no parking.
The property had housed low income tenants prior to falling into disrepair. Eventually, the building was closed due to fire safety risks.
After the remodel, a spokesman for Reliance told the Vancouver Sun that each unit was rented within the first week of availability, signaling that renters will tolerate tiny spaces in order to gain affordable and well-located rentals.
Smaller units appears to be a sustainable trend in new apartment building. Toronto developers have experimented with units as small as 450 square feet. Given the high demand for rentals and the lack of buildable spaces in these high density areas, creating smaller units may be the only way to keep rents affordable.
Designing and developing these tiny properties is something of an art. To sell the size downgrade to rental prospects, developers have fashioned a lifestyle by creating fancy amenities packages, and locating properties very near where renters work and play. The rental home becomes a place to shower and sleep, and everything else–including entertaining, happens somewhere else.
Neutral colours, tall ceilings, glass shelving and lots of windows are common ways to quell the clastraphobia that can come from living in such small spaces. Storage cabinets which take advantage of height tame clutter, while on-site gathering places prevent a tenant from going stir crazy in a home the size of a couple of parking spaces.
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