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Developers unveil ‘micro-lofts,’ will be city’s smallest rentals

Urinating in the shower may become socially acceptable in Vancouverthanks to a 30-unit development that will house the smallest rentalsuites in the city.

Urinating in the shower may become socially acceptable in Vancouver thanks to a 30-unit development that will house the smallest rental suites in the city.

The “micro-lofts” include tiny “wet” bathrooms where the toilet and sink are in the same enclosure as the shower.

The units average a mere 270 square feet.

The development is a revamped 110-year-old Burns Block building across from Pigeon Park in the Downtown Eastside.

The suites will rent for about $750 when the $5-million project is completed in March 2011.

The open living spaces combine kitchens with living rooms and bedrooms. The bathrooms are glassed off, and literally just feet from the eating/sleeping area. Murphy Beds, which swing up into the wall, have small dinner tables attached to their undersides.

Jon Stovell, general manager of Reliance Properties, said micro apartments are common in parts of the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The tiny suites, he said, would appeal to students and “downtowners,” young service-industry workers who enjoy the lifestyle and amenities of living downtown. The least expensive rental unit, $675, he added, is affordable for someone making $25,000 a year, or about $12 per hour.

The unveiling yesterday came as a Winnipeg-based public policy group listed Vancouver as the most unaffordable city in the world.

The average price to buy a home in the city is $540,900 and the median income is $58,200 a year.

Coun. Geoff Meggs said one of the major problems is a lack of market housing for working people.

More troubling, he added, is the fact that much of Vancouver’s aging rental stock was built 40 years ago.

The Burns Block building made headlines in 2006 when the city condemned the building for fire-code violations and evicted 18 low-income tenants.

Carnegie Community Action Project spokeswoman Wendy Pedersen said the building is contributing to the “gentrification” of the neighbourhood, where the average income is about $12,000 a year.

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