Is Brandon ready for micro-apartments?

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f we build it, will they come? Many cities across the country like Vancouver and Toronto are accustomed to smaller living spaces or micro-apartments, especially when it comes to student or senior living accommodations.

Locally, we don’t have a lot of options that would fall into this same category, especially when trying to meet affordable housing rental rates. The question is if we did have scaled back living arrangements with shared facilities would this be a popular choice?

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or Manitoba Housing if you want new housing that is affordable it will have to be subsided by the provincial, federal or municipal governments (or all three).

The notion of building 1,000+ square foot, two-bedroom units as affordable housing is not sustainable unless it is subsidized by more than one level of government. The reality is that the cost to produce these units is over $180,000 per unit and therefore the costs would not allow for the rent to be in the affordable range. This was supported by the recent report released by the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation.

Building micro-apartments would help to reduce land and construction costs, which in essence would bring the rent on a new unit down to the affordable level as defined by CMHC for Brandon. In addition, having micro apartments would help to free up larger, slightly more expensive units for families and those who need the extra space.

This is where property developers must take into consideration marketability and sustainability of proposed micro-apartments.

Interestingly, some of the highest demand apartments within the Vionell Holdings’ portfolio are one-bedroom apartments (just 613 square feet) at Arbutus Place located in a residential area in the south end of Brandon. They rent for $975-1000 per month plus hydro.

As the market is explored, we wonder if renters would be interested in ground level, one-bedroom apartments with shared washroom facilities (perhaps shared with four other units) for only $800 per month.

Many of us are used to living in a fair bit of space. However, we have to ask ourselves, does a post-secondary student or independent, active senior need a 1000 square foot apartment or would they be willing to sacrifice space in order to achieve lower housing costs?

Vionell Holdings Partnership (VHP) provides rental housing and property management for an array of residential and commercial customers, including Condominium Management. VHP currently has over 3,500 units under management in Manitoba.  For more information please visit www.vhproperties.ca.