Condo, Strata and HOA News

Tag Archives: apartment

I Want To Build an IKEA Small Space Condo Complex

I love IKEA. I think it’s not only a store, but an idea towards simplified living that is encapsulated within a powerful brand (I am not brainwashed by a corporation!).

There is one innovation to marketing that I really like when I visit IKEA. It’s their Small Spaces demo rooms and units. Walking through their show suites you will stumble upon one or two “whole living spaces” in only a couple hundred square feet. And if we chain a bunch together we could test run a couple of “you life your condo by IKEA”

Hear me out. There is a need for two types of ultra-high density living situations: recently homeless and low cost/entry housing.

Recently homeless are individuals that are transitioning from homelessness to some sort of permanent residence.  Social programs have been helping people do this for decades, but this has recently become a hot topic with a movement in “rapid re-housing” which attempts to find housing and then treat the symptoms that caused the homelessness.

In this case, we would create individual “dorm floors” with a score or so individual Small Spaces, combined with shared common room, activity room, training room, and a larger onsite “dorm-mom” housing on each floor. The key is, instead of a dormitory feel, to use the Small Space approach to build fully legitimate apartments that are independent of each other – enforcing that that living there is about being independent. None the less we do wrap some common areas to help deliver the social programs and support on an individual level.

I guess why I look to IKEA is recently homeless people could also benefit from being in a well-designed, modern, beautiful and well equipped home. In Calgary we have a gorgeous drop in centre. Nice enough that when it was planned and built people complained it was “too nice looking” and “too much was spent on looks.” Now, it’s been a decade, and the building acts as an icon for the community, and the hundred thousand people+ who see the building daily have a positive impression. Good architecture, looks and functionality are as important. IKEA’s Small Spaces can do the on a unit by unit basis.

For low cost (and entry) housing, there shouldn’t be a disjunction between low-cost and IKEA. Low cost housing often creates an impression of ugly, low quality, slipshod, and temporary. To me it doesn’t have to be like that. We could build a specially designed complex where low-cost means value and quality, and that value and quality is driven by IKEA.

Anyways, there’s room for a company like IKEA to move from filling a house, to being a housing developer, and doing it in a way that is phenomenal.

Condo to Apartment Conversion Forces Owners to Sell

All condominium legislation, anywhere, includes a clause on dissolution of the condominium and doing something else with it. The primary use of this legislation is proper and quick handling of condominium that has suffered catastrophic failure (fire, storm, structural failure). If the building is unsafe to live in the owners can choose to sell the property instead of rebuild.

The clause can also be used when the majority of units (often 90%+) chose to disband for other reasons. In Orlando, state legislation in the last four years has made condominium dissolution easier, and some failed condominium developers have bulk sold their units to investors that are dissolving the condominium and turning them into rentals.

For the Element at MetroWest, Orlando, this is exactly the case. An investment group now owns about 70%+ of the 328 units and have moved to turn the building private.

For owners that still remain, they have little choice. The investors can give them part ownership in the new endeavour and boot them, or give them fair market value and boot them. The only problem is units have devaluated by 71% – but the mortgages remain the same.

Owners won’t have much recourse. While some will fight it, it is likely they will only be fighting for a slightly better market valuation or extra payment to move.

I have to agree – based on the immense amount of stories that feature massively empty complexes, or non-paying owners – a conversion to apartments may keep the building, neighbourhood and tax rolls maintained.

I have always encouraged condominiums to foreclose on delinquent owners of condominium fees – because the building must be maintained and the other, responsible, owners protected from another’s negligence. In this case, we have owners – responsible and fee paying owners – that none the less are being gravely injured now by terrible developers who were unable to sell the product they created. And those few responsible owners that bought are now being harmed anyways.