Two Vancouver property firms are collaborating on the creation of 30 so-called "micro-lofts" as part of the redevelopment of the historic six-storey Burns Block at 18 West Hastings. At approximately 270 sq. ft. — about the size of two municipal parking spaces — the market rental units will be the smallest in the city.
Photograph by: Handout, Peak Communicators
VANCOUVER -- The city’s smallest rental suites were unveiled Monday at a media event held in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Located in the century-old Burns Block building at 18 West Hastings St., the 270-square-foot so-called “micro-lofts” are expected to fetch an average of $750 a month, and, according to a company press release, attract “students, people in transition and those looking to work and live in the heart of the downtown area.”
The units drew praise from Coun. Raymond Louie, who was among those on hand when artist renderings of the suites were made public for the first time.
Louie called the suites “well-designed,” noting the efficient use of light and space.
“Although they are small, they are quite functional,” he said.
The images released Monday show efficient unit lay-outs, featuring a double-wide pull-down wall bed, integrated folding table, compact appliances, storage, built-in safe and a small “wet” bathroom, similar to what might be found on a boat.
In all, the project -- scheduled to be completed in March 2011 -- will see the construction of 30 units in the five-storey building. Units on one floor will come fully furnished.
The building will also feature a rooftop garden, basement gym and its original facade will be maintained.
Developers Reliance Properties and ITC Construction Group are behind the project, which was approved by city council in 2008.
Louie said the approval required council to relax the minimum suite size from 320 sq.ft. to 270 sq.ft.
He said it’s part of the city’s ongoing efforts to boost the number of affordable rental units available, particularly in the downtown core, where the vacancy rate is less than one per cent.
Louie said the project will also help to revitalize the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
Burns Block “is a closed building as it stands now. So, hopefully, this will add further confidence in the area and we will see a lot more warm bodies using the services available,” he said.
In an interview Friday, Jon Stovell of Reliance Properties said the lofts were created in response to the steady public demand for more affordable loft-style apartments in the city’s downtown core.
Reliance purchased the heritage building in 2007. It had been used as a single-room occupancy hotel until it was shut down over safety concerns by fire officials in 2006.
Louie said occupants evicted following the closure were offered alternative social housing.