As Toronto condos and their appliances get smaller and smaller, one developer is saving space by ditching an appliance altogether: the oven.
In 162 units at 576 Front St. W. near Bathurst St., all suites under 480 square feet, there is no standalone oven. Instead, those apartments include convection microwaves, which combine the functions of microwaves and convection ovens.
“As part of considering a diverse market and lifestyle preferences in our designs, this appliance was selected as a smart solution that offers space saving efficiencies and functionality within the living area,” said Agnieszka Wloch, vice-president of development at Minto Communities Toronto, in an email to the Star.
She said the 528 larger units in the building, known as Minto Westside, have separate wall ovens and microwaves.
Rental listings on realtor.ca for the ovenless units show kitchen areas with the convection microwave overtop of a two-burner stovetop and small sink, with dishwasher, fridge and freezer blending into the cabinetry. One ad for a small studio referencing a “gourmet kitchen” asks for $1,650 a month. Other studios ask up to $1,850, while an ad for a one-bedroom unit is posted at $2,100 a month.
Lifestyle changes, specifically a decline in cooking and rise in popularity of food delivery apps, can at least partly explain the move to smaller and nonexistent appliances in condos, says Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management and an expert in urban housing markets.
“Society is moving toward an app-driven society where SkipTheDishes is the new norm and there’s no need to cook,” Haider said.
Haider added that, as well as saving space, combining the microwave and oven could possibly “save the builder a few thousand dollars.” And he said these types of units could also be designed for investors interested in Airbnb-style options, “because the short-term rentals, including Airbnb, attract renters who are not interested in big-time cooking.”
At Westside, however, Wloch said a policy is set to go into effect in the coming months, once the condo buildings are registered as a corporation, that will restrict leasing to a minimum of 30 days for furnished suites and 12 months for unfurnished suites.
Matthew Slutsky, president of real-estate listings website BuzzBuzzHome, said 576 Front St. W. is a rare example of a condo building selling units with no standalone ovens — but he does see it becoming a trend.
“In the downtown core many people do not cook,” he said. “They eat out, they order in, and they take advantage of services like delivery services more than they cook.”
Slutsky added although the option is not for everyone, “there is no doubt that a segment of the population would prefer more living space and/or storage than kitchen appliances that don’t get used.”
Feng Lu, a salesperson with ReMax Imperial who is renting out a unit in the building, also said she expects to see more units without ovens in the future.
“I don’t think a lot of urbanizers (are) using the ovens these days,” she said. “They depend heavily on the grocery store or they take out food from the local restaurant, so they don’t have to make use of the oven, that’s not really the most necessary appliance in the unit.”
Debbie Field, a co-ordinator for the Coalition for Healthy School Fund, called it a “disturbing trend” but one she thinks will be short-lived.
“Just the other day, I watched dozens of UberEats, pizza and other delivery riders outside my building with my partner, she said. “It’s so horrible for you not just financially, but also healthwise to always eat out in the long term.”
She said the no-ovens move is clearly targeted at an age group “that’s younger and busier in the city,” but she said eventually people will want to cook again.
“I don’t see this building profiting off of their idea to not have ovens in the near future,” she said. “At the end of the day, people do come back to enjoying the joys of cooking and they’ll find themselves missing that.”
With files from Temur Durrani and Sherina Harris
Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseas