A tower for communal living: rent a bedroom, share the kitchen and bathroom

A proposed development near downtown features a form of communal living that’s popular in Los Angeles and New York but is a first for Victoria.

Townline Homes is proposing a 16-storey building at the corner of Pandora Avenue and Vancouver Street that would have 121 rental units, including 54 fully furnished co-living apartments organized into three-, four- and five-bedroom pods.

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Tenants of the co-living pods would rent their bedrooms directly from the property manager and share a kitchen and dining area with others in the pod.

Most of the units would also have a private bathroom, but some would share between two units. The units would rent for about 30 per cent below the market rent for a studio unit in the city.

The project, which is headed to a public hearing, would also have ground-floor commercial space.

The co-living model already exists in places such as New York and Los Angeles, but it would be new to Victoria, Karen Hoese, the city’s director of sustainable planning and community development told council.

“I think we’re all going to be learning from this and it is a very unique situation at this point, but we’d like to see what type of benefits this provides, in terms of affordability and also meeting a variety of different needs, you know, whether it’s young folks, seniors, any mix of people who might be interested in using this type of housing,” Hoese said.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the co-living model may be desirable for people who want to live together and “create small pockets of community within the building.”

Chris Colbeck, senior vice-president of development, sales and marketing for Townline Homes, said he’s excited to see the project move forward to a public hearing.

Colbeck said the co-living units satisfy a gap in the housing market and are geared towards people looking for an affordable rental and ways to combat “urban loneliness.”

The building is designed with amenities that promote socializing, like a foosball table in the laundry room and an outdoor firepit area, and it would have a social curator who plans regular events, such as wine tasting or movie nights.

The cost of those events would be included in the rent for co-living units, Colbeck said. Tenants in other rental units could also opt in to events at a cost, he said.

While on a tour of a co-living building in New York, Colbeck said he noticed residents knew their social curator by name and stopped to chat with each other.

“There was an element of community. So you know, we are really trying to foster community,” Colbeck said.

The pods would be fully furnished, including kitchenware and toiletries.

“Basically you’re moving in with your laptop from an Uber,” Colbeck said.

Townline is also in the process of trying to develop a rental building that includes co-living units in Los Angeles.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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