Sep 24

Adding Fire Exits Creates Opportunity for 

Street-Facing Apartments

Entrepreneur Chad Robinson, designer Muriel Debroy and master constructor Mike Debroy have remodeled a large inner city Ottawa home in a state of near total decrepitude into a fabulous and imaginative 6-unit (3, 3-bedroom, 2, 2-bedroom and 1, 1-bedroom) rental building. 

It’s not only wonderfully renovated, it is structurally overhauled via insertion of new steel columns and beams from basement to rooftop. If there is a hurricane in Ottawa, you now know where to head.

I think they should get an award for their work.

You will notice from the above photo set that the main door to the building is centered between two fire exit doors. The latter give the Robinson-Debroy team an opportunity to exploit a vertical rent curve–any time you give a building at grade a window-on-the-world and street facing doors, you take advantage of this as well as animating your city or town.

If you are a young mother with a child, where would you rather live? On the 3rd floor of a building with an elevator or stairwell entry, or in a unit with its own street access and address?

Asked and answered. 

It also happily boosts ROI for landlords because they can ask for and get higher rents…

Note also that they created the street-facing entries by extending their deck across most of the front elevation; however, Chad remarked that this would create a problem–it would put in shadow the over-size window for the lower level apartment, which was not there just to provide a fire exit but also to provide light. He solved this issue brilliantly by inserting a piece of tough, clear lexan in the deck to let light shine through. 

It’s strong enough that the two cross supports that Mr Debory put in aren’t really needed; they are just there to give folks a feeling that they are not going to fall through the looking glass like Alice did.

@ profbruce @ quantum_entity

postscript: for more about vertical rent curves, please see

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.