The largest populations in loft spaces today include people with no children, singles, and students. Statistics indicate that loft residents are generally more educated and affluent than suburban residents.
Traffic congestion induced by suburban sprawl has been one of the major reasons why people decide to move to loft spaces. Studies show that many relocated suburbanites referred to their commute as “unbearable” and cited being closer to their office as a major reason for moving.
New urban populations are demanding new services that were previously only available in the suburbs, such as supermarkets, park space, above-average schooling, and community-serving facilities.
Developers in major cities, such as Los Angeles, Denver, Baltimore, Detroit, and Memphis cite the presence of sports arenas as critical in their decision on where to build new loft housing in downtown areas.
Retirees are a growing population in urban buildings. Public transportation systems and an in-house building maintenance crew make life easier.
Loft dwellers have easier access to, and tend to participate more in, nightlife, theaters, museums, and concerts.
Current loft residents cite cultural events and nightlife, convenience, ethnic diversity, shopping, and jobs and job opportunities as the benefits of loft living.
the history of loft residences
Lofts originated in Paris in the mid 19th century as artists’ ateliers. The oversized paintings of the time required expansive high-ceilinged studios – the first lofts.
Loft space originally came to Canada in the early 20th century as storage warehouses.
As early as the 1940s, some of New York’s abandoned loft spaces in SoHo (South of Houston Street) were being populated by starving artists.
By the 1970s, SoHo had full-floor loft spaces that were being renovated and transformed from commercial to residential properties. Since this was technically a commercial zone, 92 percent of these residences were illegal. However, the sheer number of new residents forced the city to rezone the area and allow the buildings to be converted to apartments.
This trend spread from New York’s SoHo to other urban areas such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.