Apartment seekers in notoriously pricey Vancouver shouldn’t get too excited about the inexpensive new “designer lofts” now on the market. They may be cheap—the average rent is just $850 a month—stylish, and located in a refurbished heritage building, but they’ve also been labelled “micro-lofts” by developers: a euphemism for exceedingly small. Ranging from 226 to 291 sq. feet, the new lofts, located in the once-condemned Burns Block building, are said to resemble many metropolitan apartments in Europe and Asia—with floor space roughly the size of two parking spaces, or a generous prison cell. And their location isn’t a selling point either. The “micro-lofts” may be downtown, but they’re on Hastings Street, in what is arguably the city’s most crime-ridden neighbourhood. The Portland Hotel—a non-profit residence for drug addicts, sex workers, and the terminally ill—is right next door.
Some say the area is slowly gentrifying, with the addition of similar (albeit larger) developments in the works. And considering Vancouver’s housing market remains the most expensive in the country (not to mention the fact that most inner-city condos today are under 600 sq. feet), apartment seekers may have no choice but to lower their standards.
Each of the 30 furnished “micro-lofts” will have high ceilings, a built-in fold-up wall bed, a flat-screen TV and a very small three-piece bathroom, with a showerhead installed directly above the toilet. Local activists opposed the development, aruging the space should have been used to house the poor, instead of, presumably, those who will just come home to their tiny apartment every night and feel poor.