Developer Makes Big Bet on Roommate-Oriented “Flat” Living
Can a downtown collection of residences be the alternative to dorm life?
By Steven Sandor | July 28, 2021
The city is filled with multiple-bedroom units and student dorms that are used by roommates. Apartments. Houses. Basements. There are shared bathrooms, you have to head to a common laundry area and hope the machines aren’t all taken. Privacy isn’t always a given.
But 10 “flats” in the new CX development in downtown Edmonton are specifically designed for communal living. Of the 222 rental units available in the development, located on 110th Street just south of Jasper Avenue, the 10 roommate-oriented flats represent a new type of housing for the city.
How is a flat specifically designed for roommates different than the current rental stock that’s simply used by roommates? Each of the occupants has his or her own bathroom. Each of the flats has its own laundry. And, they come fully furnished.
The 10 flats have four bedrooms each, which are individually secured. Each 1,250 sq. ft. unit has a common study area/living space. The cost, for each roommate, works out to $1,000 in rent a month.
“We decided to use the word ‘flats’ because of the negative connotations we’ve found with ‘dorms’ and ‘student housing,’” says Alex Ruffini, partner at Intelligence House, which is controlling the leasing management and marketing of the project, which has been developed by Cantiro. “We don’t expect it to be the cheapest available option on the market, but, for a reasonable price, it offers something that nothing else can.”
With both NorQuest College and MacEwan University being within blocks of the development, and the University of Alberta just across the High Level Bridge — or, one LRT stop away — the developers felt there was a niche that wasn’t being filled in Edmonton.
Paul Fereday, general manager for multi-family at Cantiro, says similar developments in Ontario and Quebec have met with success, and locating a series of flats close to three major educational institutions made business sense.
As of early July, about 20 potential residents had applied to live in the units. Because it’s a roommate based development, Fereday says that information is collected to make sure a right fit can be found for the applicant — does the resident want to live in an all-female flat? Does the resident want to live in a flat where the roommates are of a similar age?
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He says that the CX development has received interest from foreign students who see the flats as a way to meet people and experience life in the new city they will be calling home.
“The dorm experience is great, but this gives you a chance to live that shared lifestyle while being able to walk out and enjoy life off-campus,” he says.
But it’s not just aimed towards students. He says that, for singles who are mobile, having a furnished room is just enough.
“For those who travel a lot, it’s like having a home-base hotel room,” he says.
Units are scheduled to be available for viewing in August.