An artist’s rendering of a proposed apartment building on 65 Pryde Ave. (Daryoush Firouzli Architecture image)

Apartment building with affordable units proposed for central Nanaimo

Building on Pryde Avenue will include accessible suites

An affordable rental-only development at Pryde Avenue and Bowen Road is in the planning stages.

A development permit application proposing the construction of a four-storey, 48-unit apartment building on 65 Pryde Ave. was received by the City of Nanaimo earlier this year.

Submitted by D-Architecture on behalf of Camargue Properties Inc., which owns a number of apartment buildings in Nanaimo, the proposed building would be comprised of 11 studio units, 24 one-bedroom units and 13 two-bedroom units, three of which will be located on the first floor for people with accessibility needs.

The proposed apartment would be built on 2,950 square-metre piece of property situated between Bowen Road and Pryde Avenue, behind a 7-11 convenience store and a pump station.

Although the property’s address is listed as 65 Pryde Ave., there will pedestrian access to the building from Bowen Road as well as Pryde Avenue. The only road access will be from Pryde and there will be outdoor parking as well as underground parking spaces provided.

The proposal also requests variances for parking and height. D-Architecture is requesting 50 parking stalls, while the upcoming parking bylaw requires 41. The building is planned to be 14.6 metres high, which is slightly above the 14 metre height restriction imposed by the city.

Robin Kelly said the project is unique for Nanaimo in that the developer is planning to apply for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which offers grants in order to encourage private interests to include affordable rents in their developments. If successful, he said it would be a first for Nanaimo, adding that under the program there are a number of requirements that must be met and affordability is measured by the median income.

“Our rents have to be 10 per cent below what the market would be. One out of every three units has to be affordable for the median-income earner,” Kelly said.

The Pryde Avenue development will not be going after the “deep affordable housing” market, but rather adding much-needed below-market-rate rental stock to an already very tight rental market, according to Kelly, who said he’s excited about the project but is at the mercy of city council as it must be approved within a certain timeframe in order to meet CMHC’s deadlines.

“We have to wait until we get a council date,” he said. “Hopefully before the next election, but then we’ve got to do our working plans. We hope to get our approvals … and then be starting construction by the end of the year. But it is really out of our hands.”

Daryoush Firouzli, lead architect with D-Architecture, said because of the shape of the property, he designed the building with a slight curve, rather than a traditional square or rectangle shape.

“Our building will be the most prominent building at the intersection,” he said. “For that reason, we did design the building with curvature that is looking towards the intersection.”

Firouzli said the design includes higher ceilings at both ends of building to add more interest to the façade. He said the plans also include an amenity room, bike racks and storage units.

“Rental buildings are usually a transition to going to a home or condo, so people will have lots of stuff,” he said. “We have a flexible storage area [in this building].”

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