A report from the Ryerson City Building Institute that explores ways to solve Toronto’s affordability crisis suggests that micro-life could succeed in the city.
The report, called Rethinking the Tower, reflected on the construction of micro units in a city dominated by condominiums. Micro units have become popular in New York City and Seattle because the rental and sale prices correspond to the size of the unit, and in a city like Toronto it could help a lot to solve the problems of affordability.
“Micro units well designed for rental or ownership offer the opportunity to deliver more affordable housing to the market, particularly in central locations where land costs can be a significant barrier to affordability,” the report reads. “The analyzes carried out by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Colliers have found that the micro units in the cities of the United States are rented in monthly rents between 20% and 30% lower than in conventional apartments, although they cost more per square foot for rent than conventional rental units.”
A micro unit is approximately 350 square feet in area and has a bathroom and kitchen in the unit, but the designs are key to its commercialization.
“Many developments will have flexible furniture systems, high ceilings, large windows, built-in storage and / or convertible furniture,” the report continues. “Some have also included micro units with shared facilities and services, such as storage, living room, areas and outdoor space. Micro units are often marketed to young urban professionals and are likely to attract individuals and small households who wish to live in a central location but who can not afford or buy a larger suit.”
The ULI report quoted in Rethinking the Tower “found that 25% of the tenants in the conventional apartments surveyed in the United States would be interested in renting a micro unit.”
“It is still unclear if people really want to live in a micro-space,” continued Rethinking the Tower. “Most of the respondents in the ULI survey were interested in micro units as an option to reduce monthly rents while living in desirable places with good services, so it’s hard to tell if they really wanted a smaller space or if they were driven by financial need. Some real estate analysts have suggested that Millennials (a target market for micro units) are not looking for small apartments, but are simply opting for what is available.
Tom Storey, a sales agent for Royal LePage Signature Realty, believes that the micro units would be developed in Toronto. Given the congestion of the city and the fact that most companies are located in the city center, the market for these units would be composed largely of young professionals.
“We certainly have some units of about 300 square feet in Toronto,” Storey said. “I think there’s a market for that and there would be an adjustment that the average consumer will have to accept, but I’m seeing first-time buyers in Toronto that no longer care about a parking spot.” They just want to be located in the center of the city, and as long as the building has amenities and their gym and work are close, they will be happy. ”
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