More than 170 new rental units could be coming to Nanaimo.
The City of Nanaimo has received a development permit from Highstreet Ventures Inc. proposing the construction of 172-unit multi-family rental development near Long Lake.
According to city documents, a Kelowna-based company intends to construct four buildings – one four-storey building, two three-storey buildings and one two-storey amenity building – at 4800 Cedar Ridge Pl., near the Grand Hotel.
Designed by Vancouver-based firm WD Fisher Architect, the four-storey building would have 76 units, while the two three-storey buildings would have 48 units each. The amenity building will include a gym, bike storage, bike repair station, kitchenette, two patios, a small office and a lounge that can be rented out for events such as parties. The three apartment buildings will have a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.
There would be 261 parking spaces, which includes some underground parking. The company has requested a height variance for the Nanaimo project.
Highstreet Ventures has built rental properties in communities across Canada including Courtenay, Dawson Creek, Vernon, Edmonton, Calgary, Yellowknife and Guelph.
Christina Wilson, vice-president of development and sales with Highstreet Ventures, said the project will be the company’s first in Nanaimo. She said there is a clear need for rental housing in the city.
“We recognize the need,” she said. “The vacancy rate is pretty low in Nanaimo, so that is why we started to look at Nanaimo.”
The development will be energy efficient with high-efficiency windows, water fixtures and solar panels. Wilson said she anticipates the building receiving platinum certification by Built Green Canada. She said Highstreet Ventures is aiming to own $200 million worth of net-zero real estate by 2024.
“What net-zero means is basically, you produce as much as you consume in energy and electricity, so it is a pretty lofty goal … but for us though, it is the right thing to do.”
Highstreet Ventures company hopes to begin construction in February and be open in 2020, provided it receives approval from city council, according to Wilson, who said they the company may consider other projects in Nanaimo down the road.
“If we can find the land and it is needed, we will go there,” she said.
Coun. Jerry Hong, a member of the design advisory panel, said the proposed development brings some “much-needed” rental units to Nanaimo. He said with a lack of rental buildings built in Nanaimo over the years, the development will help ease the pressure on the city’s existing rental stock.
“When you have more readily available vacancies, people have the ability to choose … so some of those people that were paying $1,100 now want to move up and pay more, well that frees up space,” he said. “It’s a chain reaction and I think the more rental units we have, that will drive down the price and benefit all residents.”
Hong said he’s not concerned about the developers requesting a height variance, adding that he expected that given the hilly property.
“When you look at that terrain, some height variances are always going to be needed because it is not flat land all throughout,” he said. “It’s on a hill and so there will always be variances and I don’t see them coming with a variance that is going to obstruct anybody’s view.”
Hong said he was pleased to see Highstreet Ventures include an amenity building with their development. He said people don’t just want a simple space to live in, they want more.
“Housing is just not enough for people,” he said. “They want to be able to have people over, they want have friends over, they want to be able to interact and with 172 units, I think it would be a bad decision on their part if they didn’t include some common space. I think it’s a great little community they can have among themselves.”
The development will need to go before council to proceed, according to Hong, who said he didn’t know exactly when that would happen.
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