Imagine soaring ceilings, exposed mechanics and loads of texture.  Imagine industrial spaces turned into residential living.  Imagine redefining our downtown areas into a happening place to live, work and play.  These are the ideas that have brought about both the Industrial Centre Lofts in New Glasgow and the Walker Lofts in Truro, based in the downtown core of each town.  Those images and the fact that there was space available to build this type of rental unit in both downtown areas are changing the face of what renting an apartment looks like.

This is the type of rental that people in large cities can’t get enough of and so, it may strike us as unusual in small town settings.  Is there a call for this style? Does this appeal to us on the east coast?  The fact that these units have a waiting list would clearly indicate that, yes, there is a call for them.  Sure, it may not appeal to everyone, but you can’t deny these lofts have style.  And given that these loft units are being rented by all ages and walks of life, from social media managers to doctors to retirees, speaks volumes.

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These teams, which will be introduced in a bit, had vision and innovative ideas for northern Nova Scotia.  It was risky, doing something so out of the norm for this region, would it flop or fly?  But as we seek to bring change to our region, as we try to revitalize our downtowns, change and something out of the ordinary is called for.  And these lofts are a step in that direction.  Narrowing our focus so that everything from groceries, to work, to entertainment is all within walking distance means that these downtown cores again take on a role similar to what they would’ve had many years ago.  Both communities have a thriving farmer’s markets that is very nearby, as well, again, building on the fact that everything is close at hand and you don’t have to hop in your car to get your essentials.

WALKER LOFTS
If you lived in Truro in the past 100 years, there’s a chance you would’ve shopped for your hardware in what is now the Walker Lofts.  Back in 1891, the first building by A.J. Walker went up with more being built on as the years progressed.  There were five buildings joined with one façade when fire destroyed one of the buildings in 2013. And that is where the story of Walker Lofts starts.

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The team of Linda and Charles MacQuarrie, Alain Begin and Jon Keddy began to visualize what the vacant building could be in the spring of 2014.  With architect, friend, and uncle, Geoff Keddy, the first concept of the redesigned Walker building was put on paper.  With the main concept established, the details and floorplans were laid out, rearranged and rearranged again to suit the unique space, the business plan and the lives of the future tenants. Now, the Walker building has commercial space on the main level and 14 rental units on the second and third level.

Exposed brick, reclaimed components, structural elements and stunning design details give the Walker Lofts a real warmth in what could be a cold, uninviting space.  But these units are far from that, they exude character and charm, and yet have elements like the exposed duct work that scream ‘New York loft’.  It is the perfect mix of industrial and reclaimed that gives each unique space its own charisma.

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And with new business tenants moving into the commercial space on the main level, the draw to these units will be even greater.  The revitalization and re-branding of the downtown core in Truro is working wonders and Walker Lofts is right in the middle of it all.

INDUSTRIAL LOFT CENTRE
Grounded in the heart of New Glasgow, was a building that was showing its age.  But with a team like Jamie MacGillivray and Donnie Clarke of MacGillivray Properties Ltd., new life was breathed into the entire Mae MacGillivray building, not just the upper level which houses the Industrial Loft Centre.  The journey of these lofts started about 5 years ago with a wide open space on the upper level and a rough idea forming of creating a space that would be unique to New Glasgow.  With the help of a young designer, MacGillivray and Clarke took their ideas and brought that vision to life.

Each of the 8 units is different, maximizing the space on the upper level and giving potential renters options of what will suit their lifestyle better.  The tenants even get the benefit of an onsite gym for their own use.  The polished concrete floors, stainless steel cabinetry, industrial lighting and vast windows are just a few of the details that contribute to the loft-living ideal.  Having the dividing walls only going up to standard wall height and the entire ceiling exposed throughout feeds into the loft appeal and truly makes the space feel even larger than it is.

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Even though these spaces are new, well-planned out and in the center of town, the thing that has made the biggest impression on the tenants is the incredible care that has been given to them by their landlords.  The first tenant to move in is quoted as saying, “We’ve been astounded as to the level of personal service we’ve received from every member of staff or person related to MacGillivray Properties Limited.”  When Trudi Mills first laid eyes on her unit, she knew she had to grab her chance because she realized the vacancy wouldn’t last long enough for her to think it over, and she has not one regret in that quick decision.

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Lori Byrne
Lori Byrne is an Interior Decorator and a country-girl at heart. Fall is a personal favourite – rich colours, warm layers and a good reason to snuggle in! Exploring the Stewiacke Valley Barn Quilt tour has already been a highlight of my Fall since learning more about the history of barn quilts. If you need me, I’ll be planning decorating projects or painting more barn quilts in the studio! You can find me over at www.farmfreshstyle.ca