Micro-lofts and Housing Affordability
Burns Block is an innovative market rental housing project built by Vancouver companies Reliance Properties and ITC Construction Group. Located at the site of the historic Burns Block in the Gastown neighborhood of the Downtown Eastside, the building dates back 100 years and is on the Vancouver Heritage Register. The building features 30 self-contained affordable furnished market rental suites or “micro-lofts.” Suites range from 226 – 291 sq. ft., making them the smallest in Canada. The spatially-efficient design contains built-in, pull-down wall beds with integrated folding tables, flat screen televisions, compact appliances, ample storage and built-in safes for storing valuables. Typical rental value for each suite is $850 per month, including cable and Internet, and starts as low as $760 per month. The building is 18,000 sq. ft and has five floors. The majority of occupants are between the ages of 25 and 35 and include students and those working in the heart of the downtown area.
While the former use of Burns Block was for a Single Room Occupancy hotel (SRO) with shared facilities, suites in the redeveloped building each contain a “wet” bathroom and full kitchen. The building also features a rooftop garden, basement gym, bicycle storage and several environmentally-friendly elements. The Bitter Tasting Room, owned by Heather Hospitality Group, is conveniently located on the ground floor of the building, which also includes 1,421 sq. ft. of future retail space.
The social entrepreneur partnership between Reliance and ITC is an effort to restore the building and to pay tribute to its history. Reliance purchased the building in 2007 after the former SRO was closed by fire officials in 2006. The unprecedented development model was negotiated with Vancouver City Council to provide heritage incentives and vary the minimum apartment size to enhance affordability. ITC joined the project in 2009 to complete the construction work and find cost savings in the complex heritage reconstruction. The project was completed in late August 2011 and all suites were rented and occupied by September 2011.
For more information visit: http://www.microlofts.ca/