September 11, 2014 8:38 pm
Updated: September 11, 2014 9:17 pm

Could you live in a 350-square-foot apartment? They’re planned for Edmonton


Watch above: Could you live in 350 square feet? An Edmonton developer is thinking big by thinking small. Vinesh Pratap explains.

EDMONTON — How much living space do you need? Could you live in a 350-square-foot apartment? Could you live without a parking space? A local development company hopes so, as plans are in the works to build micro-apartments in Old Strathcona.

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Keeping with its values of bringing new life to underutilized spaces, Edmonton-based Beljan Development is hoping to build on the century-old Crawford Block, located on Gateway Blvd just north of Whyte Ave.

“We took a long time to really look at this to say, ‘Okay, how can we keep the historical aspect of it, but bring something new to it,” said Ivan Beljan, Beljan Development’s visioneer.

“The building is in great condition,” added Chris Dulaba, Beljan Development’s placemaker. “We felt that instead of tearing down history and trying to recreate it, that we can retain it.”

The plan is to build up, making the existing building five stories high. The building will house 40 micro-apartment suites, each about 350-square feet in size.

“With these smaller units it’s all about design and how efficient you can make your design,” said Beljan. “It’s also about flexible furniture and how furniture can be manipulated or maneuvered so that you have open space and bedroom space and living space all kind of combined into one.”

Vinesh Pratap outlines what a 350-square-foot space would look like in Global Edmonton’s parking lot.

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Beljan says there will be no parking for residents, but a large bike room is in the plans.

In addition, the developers are planning two retail spaces for the back of the building, facing the alley.

“It has enough visibility that we thought there was a commercial aspect that could be introduced there.”

The executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association says the developer came to him with the plans about a year ago.

“What they’re proposing to do is fantastic for the area,” said Murray Davison.

Davison says he really likes the idea of preserving the history and character of the building, while bringing in something new and modern to the popular district.

“This is a great example where it’s a combination of both.

“It brings more business, more retail, puts more eyes in the alley… We can do more, have cafes out the back, those types of things. We’d like to see some of the streetscaping that you see here and in front of the Farmers’ Market spill through the walkway there so it becomes a pedestrian-friendly area.”

As part of the plans, the developer is seeking historic designation to ensure preservation of the original building. That means access to public grants, and in this case, just over $160,000 for restoration work.

“It just made sense from obviously a business standpoint, but also a reflection of our values as a development company in terms of trying to retain history and retain that sort of character on the block,” said Dulaba.

Beljan Development is still in the process of applying for permits, but the company hopes to begin work on the project in the new year. There is no word yet what the rental price will be for a unit in the building.

The City of Edmonton is holding an open house Thursday to discuss the project. It’s being held at the Strathcona Community League between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

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