A downtown condo development will now be turned into affordable housing units with a $4.5-million grant from the provincial government to Nelson CARES.
Culos Development announced in August it had purchased the vacant lot at 205 Hall St., next to the Nelson and District Community Complex, from the City of Nelson with plans for a $10.25-million, four-storey building.
The development would have included 38 units of housing and four commercial properties on the ground floor.
But now the property will instead be sold to Nelson CARES, which has reached a deal with B.C. Housing and Culos to purchase the building after construction and provide an estimated 45 rental units.
The new plan, which was announced by Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall and Nelson CARES executive director Jenny Robinson on Friday, is part of a $492-million investment by the provincial government that will build 4,900 homes in 42 communities over the next two to three years.
“It’s going to have a very positive impact throughout the rental market in the entire Nelson region,” said Mungall.
Robinson said she isn’t yet sure what the project’s final cost will be, but that she expects the design to be slightly different than Culos’s original plans. Seventy per cent of units will be subsidized, Robinson said, while the remainder will be rented at market value.
Mungall said the housing will also be available to the general population rather than specifically targeted at, for example, seniors or families.
“This is going to be mixed and that has been identified over and over and over again as actually an ideal situation to create a stronger community, especially from a multi-generational prospective,” she said.
The new development is the second Nelson CARES affordable housing project in the works.
Demolition has started at 805 Nelson Ave. on a site set to become a 47-unit development aimed at residents aged 55 and up, as well as for people with disabilities. That project is expected to be completed by 2020.
The SHARE Housing Society also has approval to build a $10-million, five-storey building at 520 Falls St., adding 39 one-bedroom units to the city.
“These projects that are in progress right now will make a huge difference to this community and take some of the pressure off people,” said Robinson.
“We’ve been sitting at a zero-vacancy rate for five years. People are in total crisis — everybody, not just poor people. Everybody can’t find housing here and often people are getting squeezed out, which is really unfortunate, [so] this is great news.”
The provincial investment is part of the Building BC: Community Housing Fund’s $1.9-billion plan to provide 14,000 affordable rental homes over 10 years.