Students at the University of Victoria and Camosun College will have to look a littler harder for rental units in the future.
A project development at 1301 Hillside Ave. which was originally slated as a rental complex targeting students will now become a condominium development instead, with 10 per cent of the units designated as affordable units.
In March 2018, Abstract Development’s sister company, NVision Properties, proposed the six-storey, 46-unit project for the site.
“[O]ur building program was carefully thought out and custom tailored to the site and built on the assumption of limited vehicle parking, given that we are prohibited from constructing underground parking,” said Adam Cooper, the development manager in the original letter to the City.
“Our solution to this challenge was to propose a rental housing project, where smaller unit sizes, shared building amenities, a high volume of bike parking and a transit accessible, walkable location will together attract residents who are interested in living a less vehicle-oriented lifestyle.”
However, at a recent meeting with the Oaklands Community Association, a notice of plans to switch the development to a 50-unit market condo development was discussed.
Cooper said in an interview that the switch was largely caused by a rise in industry prices.
“We’ve been facing escalating construction costs in Victoria, essentially a 30 per cent rise in the last two years,” Cooper said. “That is making it more challenging for developers like us to build purpose-built rental buildings, given that the margins are thinner on a rental building than it is on a condo.”
Cooper noted that the rise in costs are not matching the rise in rent, which would make it impossible to install affordable rental units.
“We also have a new council that is extremely focused on ways to provide below-market housing, both in rental and strata,” Cooper said. “With switching to market condos we’ve been able to offer some more units with affordable options… we’d like to believe Victoria isn’t a place to be a renter in perpetuity; we like the idea of getting people on the homeowner ladder.”
NVision is working on a deal with BC Housing to ensure that 16 of the units are below market cost, but final prices are yet to be determined.
As originally proposed, the project would have 24 parking spots, 65 bike parking spaces and two live/work units.
If everything in the application process goes smoothly, shovels will hit the ground in approximately 9 to 12 months, with construction expected to take 18 to 20 months.
NVision is also currently working on a student-focused rental development in Saanich, at Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue.
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