This Montreal Non-Profit Wants to be the Airbnb of Heritage Buildings

Ever wanted to live in an industrial warehouse? How about a 19th-century factory?

Well, this Montreal non-profit is making your short-term rental dreams come true.

Entremise has a simple goal: to connect people in need of spaces with spaces in need of people.

But you won’t find your typical apartments and condos on this Airbnb-esque site. Think more along the lines of historic libraries or even hospitals.


These types of heritage buildings can sit empty for years while bureaucrats decide on their eventual use. Over time, these structures fall into disrepair, are vandalized, or succumb to arson because they can be expensive to maintain. Additionally, heritage buildings are protected by law and come with restrictions on their use, further delaying the revitalization process.

With Entremise, these buildings can be put to good use in the short term while governments continue to figure out what they will do with them in the long run.

Temporary tenants like start-up businesses, artist collectives, or just your average millennial looking for a cool place to live can help care for the building in exchange for cheap rent.

This isn’t an entirely new concept. Retail pop-up shops make use of vacant buildings all the time. However, the strategy Entremise proposes is on a much bigger scale compared to the typical one-off project. Plus, with all the negative press surrounding Airbnb lately, a concept like this may be a tough sell to politicians.

In some cases, adapting these structures for temporary use would take changes to building codes and zoning bylaws, which requires the support of elected officials.

Montreal planning officials are considering incorporating temporary uses for heritage buildings as they devise an action plan, slated for spring 2017.

“Any initiative that sensitizes people, like that of Entremise, can only help to better understand and better live with our built heritage,” said Manon Gauthier, a member of the city of Montreal’s executive committee responsible for heritage, culture and design.


So what does it all mean? Well, if you’ve had your eyes on a sweet industrial warehouse space for a while but were worried you couldn’t afford it, don’t give up just yet – the hipster housing dream is alive and well in Montreal.