Innovative U of W project offers housing for multitude of income levels

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Work is underway on what's being billed as the downtown's first larger-scale, truly mixed-income apartment complex.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/06/2015 (2661 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Work is underway on what’s being billed as the downtown’s first larger-scale, truly mixed-income apartment complex.

A University of Winnipeg project, the $30-million, 14-storey UWinnipeg Commons under construction at 320 Colony St., will boast 102 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites.

Forty six of the units will offer affordable rents for students with families who are attending the U of W or another local post-secondary institution. And 32 of the 46 suites will have rents based on a percentage of the tenant’s income, with a provincial subsidy to bring it up to the affordable-rent level.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Sherman Kreiner, managing director of U of W's Community Renewal Corp., says the project offers truly mixed-income residential housing.

Another 38 units will be available to everyone at market rental rates, and the remaining 18 units will be premium, higher-rent apartments.

On Monday, the university held a ceremony to mark the official start of construction for the project, which was first announced in November 2013. Actual work on the site has been underway since February, and the hope is to have the 112,000-square-foot building ready for occupancy by July or August 2016.

The U of W’s Community Renewal Corp. is the owner and developer of the complex, and will also manage it once its completed.

The province is providing a loan guarantee, an operating subsidy from Manitoba Housing and PST tax credits. With the City of Winnipeg, it’s providing a tax increment financing grant, or property tax credit, worth about $2.55 million over 15 years.

“The real issue that I’m excited about for this, and that I want to see whether it can happen, is that it really is mixed (income),” community renewal corp. managing director Sherman Kreiner said following the ceremony.

“It really is going to be half affordable and half market and premium, and no one does that. Everyone talks about it, but no one does it. The challenge is whether we can find a market here for people who are prepared to do that, and I hope we can.”

Kreiner said if the model proves successful, hopefully other mixed-income rental complexes will built in the downtown.

‘High-quality rental housing in the downtown is at a premium. There isn’t an awful lot of that’

— UWCRC managing director Sherman Kreiner

“High-quality rental housing in the downtown is at a premium. There isn’t an awful lot of that,” he said. “There are lots of condos… but there is really not a lot of quality, good, affordable rental housing at whatever price point you happen to be at.”

The monthly rental rates at UWinnipeg Commons will range from $811 for a one-bedroom unit to as high as $1,627 for a three-bedroom apartment, including all utilities.

While at least two other downtown complexes — the Avenue Building on Portage Avenue and the U of W’s McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence — have a mix of affordable and regular apartments, the U of W said UWinnipeg Commons is “the first on this scale.”

Kreiner noted in his address that McFeetors Hall has 25 apartments geared to students with families, and the demand for them was overwhelming.

“This project is in response to that demand,” he added.

Premier Greg Selinger and Mayor Brian Bowman said the city and province want to see more people living in the downtown, including more students. So both levels of government were happy to support a project like this, they said.

“The students and families who live here will enrich the neighbourhood and provide an economic boost for local businesses,” Selinger said.

LM Architectural Group Artist's rendering of a 14-storey UWinnipeg Commons apartment complex that will add more living options in downtown Winnipeg for students, families and individuals.

Bowman said he remains committed to his campaign promise of increasing Winnipeg’s downtown population to 20,000 people by providing assistance for innovative new housing developments like this.

“We can’t wait to see this go up, especially at this location,” he said. “It really will be transformative in terms of this area of the city.”

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 7:36 AM CDT: Changes headline, replaces photo

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