Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 30/3/2015 (2120 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A LOCAL real estate firm is trying to carve out a niche for itself as a developer of infill rental properties, with one new apartment project nearing completion in Osborne Village and two more in the works.
Progressive Real Estate is about a month away from completing a 15-unit, three-storey, walk-up apartment building on an infill lot at 320 Stradbrook Ave.
Within the next two months, it plans to start building another similar-sized apartment building on another infill property about a half a block down the street, at 381 Stradbrook.
And next spring it expects to start working on a 32-unit apartment building on an infill property it owns at 378 Wardlaw Ave.
"I think infill is great for the city," explained Progressive co-owner Geoff Milnes, who launched the company five years ago with longtime friend Rob Robson.
"Infill development adds a lot more to property tax revenue," Milnes said, "which helps the city out. And they don’t have to add more infrastructure. So the fact we’re adding more infill rentals — I think the city is definitely on board with that plan."
Jenny Gerbasi, the city councillor for the area, was unavailable for comment. However, in an interview last year, Gerbasi said a new four-storey, luxury apartment complex the Lount Corporation was building on River Avenue was a welcome addition to the area.
She noted then that while there had been a raft of new multi-family projects in the Osborne Village area in the last few years, most of them had been condominium complexes. What Winnipeg and Osborne Village need, she said, is more rental units. Especially affordable rental units. "But any new rental units is still good," she added.
Kate Kennedy, Progressive Real Estate’s property manager, said the recent spurt of condo developments in the area is also one of the reasons Progressive opted for rental units.
"In Osborne Village, we have found that the condo market has slowed," she said. "There’s a lot of condos in the area, and people have ample choice... in different price ranges. But there is a need for more rentals, for sure."
She said the response to the company’s new Stradbrook Avenue project shows there is a strong demand for more rental apartments in the area. Six of the 15 units have been leased in the three weeks since their display suite opened, and she expects the other nine will be leased by the time the building opens May 1.
All of the apartments are twobedroom units, with three on the lower level and four each on floors one through three. Ten of the units have balconies, and all of them feature granite countertops, maple cabinetry, stainless-steel appliances and vinylplank flooring.
Kennedy said Progressive has tried to keep its monthly rental rates in line with those for other newer apartments in the area. Its rates range from $1,100 for the lower-level units to $1,250 for the third-floor suites.
Kennedy said most of the people who have leased an apartment so far have been young professionals who work downtown and like the idea of being able to walk to work. Milnes said the area also offers a lot of amenities that appeal to that demographic.
"You’ve got great restaurants, you’ve got great pubs, you’ve got great stores, and everything is within walking distance."
The Stradbrook Avenue apartment building isn’t Progressive’s first multifamily project. In 2013, it built a fourunit, rent-to-own, condo complex on an infill lot at 866 St. Mary’s Rd.
"That project went great," Milnes said, "and that’s kind of how we got our start in building."
Before that, the company had been buying older, detached homes and condos, fixing them and reselling them.
"But for the most part, we’re now primarily a company doing infill development," Milnes said. "That’s our bread and butter, and we’re focusing on rentals. I think if people start to recognize us as a company building rentals, I think that’s the goal."
While their focus is on Osborne Village, Milnes said they’re not ruling out other areas of the city.
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"I know there are some great opportunities in the West End and other places," he said. He also noted the company has another infill lot in St. Vital that’s been approved for a six-unit residential complex. But they haven’t decided if it will be rental apartments or rent-to-own condos.
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Some background information about Progressive Real Estate:
Founded about five years ago by longtime friends Geoff Milnes and Rob Robson.
At the time, Milnes had his own painting company — Inside Out Painting — and was a sales associate with Acklands-Granger. Robson worked for Revenue Canada.
For the first three years, the company concentrated on buying older houses and condominiums, fixing and reselling them.
Two years ago, it tackled its first development project, a four-unit, rent-toown condo complex on St. Mary’s Road.
It’s now close to completing its second rental project — a new 15-unit apartment building in Osborne Village — with two more in the works in the same area.
The partners both work full time for Progressive, which has a staff of four. Inside Out Painting is now a division of Progressive, with eight to 10 employees.