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Port Moody developer hopes roof-top patio and flex space will make smaller units more 'livable'

The building features a rooftop patio that's almost 3,000 sq. ft.
The new Sitka House condo project features a rooftop amenity that's almost 3,000 sq. ft.

An integrated nook that can be customized as a space for dining, working or watching TV is one of the features of a new condo project in Port Moody that will help make suites as small as 400 sq. ft. livable.

The 88-unit Sitka House project to be built by local developer Dulex Laidler on James Road includes 20 studio and junior one-bedroom suites ranging in size from 400 to 457 sq. ft. As well, there are 13 one-bedroom units less than 600 sq. ft. The project also includes 26 rental units, some of which are as small as 400 sq. ft.

While those are larger than the 299 sq. ft. micro-suites the developer originally pitched as its response to Port Moody’s housing affordability crisis that’s made it difficult for young people to stay in their hometown and seniors to age in place, there’s still not a lot of room to stretch your legs.

That’s why the project’s architect, Vancouver-based Integra Architecture Inc., has integrated the optional flex space into most of the small apartments — and several of the larger ones — along with the use of a side-by-side washer-dryer unit that allows for closet space above the appliances.

As well, several building amenities like a lounge for social gatherings, co-working space, yoga and fitness studios and a pet wash station are available to get day-to-day things outside the confines of home. There’s also a bike repair room and bike lockers.

Much of the project’s roof will be a 2,940 sq. ft. private deck for residents to enjoy, compete with outdoor seating and dining tables for socializing and eating along with fire tables to keep warm.

Bill Laidler, principal of Dulex Laidler, said the starting sale price of $399,900 is the lowest in the city compared to other comparable projects coming online in Port Moody.

The company is also giving first dibs to purchasers who already live or work in the city.

Laidler said there’s been interest from couples looking to downsize their home on Heritage Mountain and an executive of a Port Moody company who’s relocating from Toronto.

In his original pitch to council for the six-storey project, Laidler touted 111 units including 57 micro suites that he said would appeal to young professionals and recent grads who’ve been priced out of the local real estate market. But several councillors pushed back, expressing concerns the tiny living spaces were out of place in a suburban setting with few amenities nearby.

Dulex Laidler's Sitka House on James Road is 900 metres from the nearest SkyTrain station.

“Unless the placement of these spaces is done correctly, they can fall into squalor,” said Coun. Meghan Lahti — who’s now Port Moody’s mayor — at the time, adding small spaces can be particularly confining with more people working from home.

Other councillors worried the project could attract speculators, driving prices in the community even higher, while some said the project fills a need for more affordable homes and could spark the development of similar projects nearby, creating a demand for more shops and services.

Ultimately, the development was approved last March with a proviso the developer look at ways to make the project more energy efficient.

Laidler said that’s being achieved, with substantial upgrades to the building’s environmental step code. He’s also working with a car share company to provide parking for some of their vehicles to be used by residents along with 10 shared e-bikes.

The sales centre, at 2545 Clarke St., opens Dec. 1.