Talk of “microsuites” planned for Surrey’s City Centre has council wondering if the 290-square-foot domiciles are right for the area.
With a project called Balance, developer Tien Sher’s plan is for a 56-unit, four-storey building that would contain one 290-square-foot unit – Canada’s smallest – with others ranging size up to to 500 square feet. The bulk of units would be 305 square feet.
The suites (pictured below) will be 12 feet by 25 feet, and will include a linear kitchen and a small but complete bathroom (with a three-foot by four-foot shower).
Balance will be built at Whalley Ring Road and Grosvenor Road.
Starting price for the units is $109,900.
“If you can afford the $6,000 down payment, and you make a salary of $17 per hour, we have a home for you,” Tien Sher president Charan Sethi said in a release.
Surrey council has already approved the development at first reading, but must give it the go-ahead at three more readings.
Coun. Linda Hepner was of two minds on Tuesday, saying the city needs more affordable housing, but she worries about the tiny size of the units.
“You have to be cautious not to create a place that creates more problems than provides answers,” Hepner said.
She wants to ensure it doesn’t create a “ghettoization” of the neighbourhood.
Sethi told The Leader Tuesday he understands Hepner’s concerns, and said he’ll avoid creating a ghetto because of the smaller-scale of the development.
“I perfectly agree with her if you would turn around and build 200 units like that,” Sethi said. “All I would do is devalue my whole area.”
He has two more buildings planned for North Surrey and some more land available for other projects.
“It’s not a matter of me ghettoizing the area and getting the hell out of there,” Sethi said, adding he’s in the game to build a community.
He said he’s tired of hearing people complain about affordable housing and doing nothing about it. This project is what affordable housing will look like, Sethi said.
“Basically what we’re looking for is people who are making somewhere between 22 and 50 thousand dollars a year,” Sethi said. “I’m not going to discriminate who can buy and who cannot buy. Basically we’re trying to aim at a market that’s not being served by anybody right now.”
Sethi said another key to the project’s success is transportation. It’s a seven-minute walk to the Gateway SkyTrain station.
The public hearing for the development is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 22.