The concept of live-work home design, where one has a home and a business under the same roof, is taking off. The movement is spurred on by a shift toward human-centric design, increased urban density patterns and the fact that today, unlike previous generations, people’s lives are very interconnected — live, work and play happens simultaneously.
Kyla Filliol, 38, is part of a growing demographic, one of Calgary’s 128,000 self-employed entrepreneurs. In Calgary, entrepreneurism is an area of employment that has experienced 11.1 percent growth over the past 10 years, with those in the 35 to 54 year age bracket making the greatest move in breaking the traditional work cycle chain.
But Filliol has taken entrepreneurism a step further. She runs a home-based skin care business, Illuminate Skin Therapies. She’s been running her business from her infill home in Killarney for the past three years. “The business has grown rapidly, and for that reason we have had to look at alternatives,” says Filliol, who transitioned from a professional corporate job. Although she currently operates on a Class 2 home-based business licence, it wasn’t enough for the amount of traffic that her business is now attracting. “We needed to look at a live-work scenario that was commercially zoned,” she says. But, she wanted to retain that home-like feel. Plus she says that having a home-based business has allowed her to keep her overhead down, allowing the business to flourish. So she and her husband, Kevin Wenzel, who owns Calgary Interiors, began their search for a live-work scenario with ample parking, great foot traffic, excellent design and all in a vibrant, thriving neighbourhood. They found what they were looking for at Park Point in Calgary’s inner-city Beltline area, purchasing one of the development’s eight ground-level townhome live-work commercially zoned designs. “There was an enormous amount of parking and we were able to get something really polished — it gave us the level of quality that we wanted in our home and in our business simultaneously,” she says.
The home features 1,045 square feet of space over two levels, with two bedrooms upstairs and two entrances, one for the business, which fronts onto 2nd Street S.W. “The main floor is very professional looking. It is that harmonious combination of home and corporate space. It’s very appealing,” says Filliol.
Developed by Vancouver-based Qualex-Landmark, Park Point was the developer’s first foray into the live-work scene in Calgary. The company took inspiration from Pomaria, a residential live-work project in Vancouver that it recently designed and built. “We recognized the trend for Canadians working from home and believe that there is a demand for the live-work design in Calgary,” says Parham Mahboubi, vice-president of planning and marketing for Qualex-Landmark. Of the eight live-work ground-level town-homes in the 289-unit, 34-storey project, four face onto 12th Avenue S.W. and four face onto 2nd Street S.W. Memorial Park is on the building’s doorstep. “We really wanted to provide entrepreneurial homebuyers the option to set up an identifiable business out of the home with business signage and employees,” says Mahboubi. Park Point’s second tower will also offer live-work options.
But buyers aren’t just looking to the city’s core to set up home-based businesses; they are also looking to the suburbs and to satellite communities. A new project by Trico Homes in the city’s west side community of Wentworth is also attracting those looking for live-work residences. Wentworth Pointe offers 83 townhomes, eight of which are zoned for live-work. “They front onto 85th Street S.W., so they take advantage of the foot traffic and get the exposure from the main road,” says Cindy Arevalo, co-area sales manager for Wentworth Pointe. The live-work units are two-storey, three-bedroom, two-car attached garage homes with more than 1,732 square feet of living space. They each have dual entrances, as well as an undeveloped basement. “The whole live-work concept is really becoming a trend. People are seeing the convenience and looking to save money where they can,” says Arevalo.
The west side of Calgary offers all of the amenities available in the downtown core, including top restaurants and shopping, most of which is walkable. “When you have a business here you are not competing with all of those other companies downtown. Plus, there is a real sense of community here where people like to help one another out and keep things local,” says Arevalo.
The city of Airdrie is also bursting with home-based businesses — 1,520 in 2017, which accounts for 62.4 per cent of all of Airdrie businesses. And developers are recognizing this trend.
Cove Properties recently developed Chateaux at King’s Heights, a 95-unit, 40-plus condominium development with two live-work zoned homes offering 1,240 square feet of living space on the ground level with two entrances, in-floor heating, brick fireplaces and two bedrooms. “I think that the live-work concept is really coming of age — it is definitely the way of the future,” says Cove Properties’ president, Doug Mazurek.
Community developer Brookfield Residential also has plans to go ahead with a live-work project in Chinook Gate. Certainly the Beltline location was a big draw for Filliol. “We can just walk out the door and hit all of the restaurants and pubs. It’s very exciting. I love the accessibility. Plus many of our clients have businesses in the area, so it’s really great to be able to give back to them. It creates community.”
View the article online by Andrea Cox for Calgary Herald