A vacant piece of land in Nanaimo’s Wellington neighbourhood is set to become the site of 120 units of rental housing.
West Urban Developments is proposing to build an apartment complex – one five-storey building and one four-storey building – at 4745 Ledgerwood Rd., beside Jordan Avenue.
Councillors, earlier this month, voted unanimously to issue a development permit for the Ledgerwood project, which included height and yard setback variances.
Frank Limshue, development manager with West Urban Developments, said both buildings at Ledgerwood will have one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. He said variances were requested – including a retaining wall height increase – because the property’s topography is trickier to develop.
“The Ledgerwood site is fairly steep,” he said. “We need those retaining walls to basically ensure that we have got a level area to put our buildings on.”
According to the city, the five-storey building would have 62 units while the four-storey building would have 58 units. The proposal includes underground parking, surface parking, bicycle parking, electric vehicle parking spaces, a shared patio area and courtyard as well as a “natural” play area. There would also be a 92-square metre “community club room” located inside the five-storey building.
Limshue said the next step is to receive building permits from the city. He said should that happen in relatively short order, construction could begin by the end of the year.
“The construction period is anywhere from 14 to 15 months after we get the building permit,” Limshue said.
West Urban also has plans to build three 71-unit four-storey apartment buildings at Junction Avenue in the city’s south end. Limshue said even though the company is behind both projects, they are designed by different architects and won’t look the same.
“When Ledgerwood Road and Junction Avenue are finished you wouldn’t know that they have been constructed by the same company,” he said.
After decades without any new purpose-built rental units in Nanaimo, there has been a flurry of proposed apartment developments recently. Limshue said demand for apartments is high and developers are finally catching up to market demands. He said the decision for developers to build rental apartments comes down to economics and money.
“It’s all about supply and demand. The math now works, whereas previously it was very difficult,” he said.
One of the reasons for a lack of rental apartments over the years can be attributed to higher land values. Limshue said high land values make it more expensive for developers and that condos have a higher return than apartments.
“As long people are willing to pay high prices for condos, prices will go up, but with rental apartments you have a ceiling,” he said.
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