The co-living phenomenon is starting to gain traction in costly residential markets in the U.S., and Canada may soon follow suit, with two leading brands trumpeting plans to bring their micro-suite offerings to the Great White North.
New York-based Common, which currently serves more than 800 residents across 27 buildings in the U.S., announced that it has teamed up with Canadian real estate firm Dream Unlimited Corp. to open a 225-bed co-living property in Ottawa, Ontario. The 24-story project, dubbed Common Zibi, is located within Dream’s 34-acre master-planned community in the nation’s capital and is slated to open in 2022.
Separately, international co-living provider Node said it will break ground on its first Canadian residence in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, this fall. The community will offer 38 private apartments for about 50 residents upon its scheduled delivery in early 2021.
Co-living may be reaching a tipping point in the U.S., where shared living operators have already rolled out more than 4,000 beds with many thousands of additional beds in the pipeline, but the concept is still in its infancy in Canada, represented by select projects such as the recently launched luxury community Sociable Living in Toronto. The entry of major co-living platforms to the Canadian market could shake things up.
Common ventures north
Founded by Brad Hargreaves in 2015, Common currently has a presence in seven U.S. markets from New York City to Los Angeles. For its first venture abroad, Common is landing in Dream and Theia Partners’ C$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) Zibi redevelopment project straddling the Ottawa River in Ottawa and neighboring Gatineau. The massive mixed-use development aims to become the most sustainable community in North America, providing homes for 5,000 residents and jobs for 6,000 people.
Construction of Common Zibi will begin in 2020, a representative of the firm told Multi-Housing News. The community will provide a mix of co-living suites and traditional apartments, with a bedroom in the former starting at approximately $1,225 per month—which Common says is 31 percent less than a market-rate one-bedroom apartment in the area. A traditional unit in Common Zibi will rent for at least $2,065 per month. Located on The Zibi Block, the property will feature fully furnished shared lounges, shared kitchens, community rooms, in-unit laundry and a gym, as well as ground-floor retail.
The larger Zibi development is raising its profile. Common’s new partner Dream, a real estate heavyweight with $15 billion of assets under management, recently nabbed its first major commercial tenant in the development, with Canada’s federal government agreeing to a 15-year office lease of roughly 158,000 square feet.
Bringing co-living to Kitchener
Based in Toronto and London, U.K., Node serves hundreds of residents across Brooklyn, New York City; Los Angeles; Seattle; Dublin, Ireland; and London and Manchester, U.K. Founder and CEO Anil Khera splits his time between his home in Canada and the U.K., but the newly announced project in Kitchener is Node’s first Canadian residence.
The property, marking Node’s seventh location, will offer starting prices of $1,000 per month per person sharing a two-bed unit. Prices will range up to $1,600 per month for a one-bed unit. Leases will have a 12-month term, with flexibility for tenants who need to relocate, and the units will come with trendy furnishings, utilities and high-speed WiFi included. Node is the developer of the property, located at Madison and Charles Street, nearby a Light Rail Transit station.
The brand caters to a traveling workforce with its “curated living” concepts that include efficiently designed units and shared communal spaces, as well as roommate matching services. Node said in a prepared statement that Kitchener’s thriving tech and start-up culture makes the regional seat of Waterloo an ideal base for its first foray in Canada.
The example of the U.S. suggests that could be room for growth in the market. In a report published in May, Cushman & Wakefield counted more than 4,006 existing U.S. beds among nine co-living providers. Plans from seven of those brands imply a total pipeline of more than 16,730 beds.