A 226 sq. ft. solution to living large in Vancouver

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By: Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele,

Date: Tuesday Apr. 24, 2012 9:26 AM PT


Could you live in a home that is just 200 square feet?


A new breed of so-called "micro-lofts," some as small as the size of two parking spaces, are being hailed as a

small solution to some of Vancouver's biggest housing problems.


Ranging from 226 to 291 sq. feet, the units, located in the once-condemned Burns Block building on West

Hastings Street, are compact and clever living spaces that are the smallest rental units in the country.


Furnished with built-in tables, Murphy bed, flat-screen TV with free cable, and a galley-style washroom, the

heritage units rent for around $800 a month. The three-piece bathroom has a showerhead installed directly above

the toilet to save space.


Tenant Jace Ardiel, a human resources specialist, isn't deterred by the lack of breathing room.


"It's perfect for me. I'm not home very often. I would much rather spend all the extra money I would pay in rent on

travelling," he told CTV's Steele on Your Side.


If tenants feel the need to escape their tiny digs, the building features a 1,000-sq.-ft rooftop deck, complete with

garden. There's also a basement gym and bicycle storage.


Developer Jon Stovell of Reliance Properties says all 30 micro suites were rented in days when they were

released in September 2011, mostly by young people who have a different view of life in the big city.


"The city is your living room. The city is your dining room. You don't need to use your own resources to recreate all

that when you can just step out your door and enjoy a park, a beach, a restaurant, a café," Stovell said.


With rent calculated at 30 per cent of gross income, Stovell said the units would be considered affordable for

people with an income of $26,400 annually.


The building used to be a dilapidated eyesore in historic Gastown -- a rundown rooming house forced to close in

2006 because of fire and safety violations.


Some housing advocates wanted it reborn as low-income housing but city councillor Kerry Jang says diversity in

the rental market is important, especially in a city with sky-high rents.


"If we really want to solve Vancouver's housing crisis, whether you're a homeless person on the street or a new

couple looking to buy their first home, we have to be able to provide a range of housing," he said.


The developer is building another micro-loft complex in east Vancouver that one will sell suites in the 300-square-

foot range for about $170,000. There's also another building planned for Victoria.


Ardiel said he would "absolutely" buy one: "If this was for sale I would have bought it. I just think it's such a smart



Watch CTV tonight as Lynda Steele tours this mini housing solution, and take a look at the amenities packed into

200 square feet.



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