Nelson city council passed a zoning variance for the Granite Pointe condominium-style townhome project on Monday that will make the building more accessible to entry-level buyers.
“The .32-metre variance basically allows us to change the building from eight units to ten,” said Patrick Davis of West Creek Developments.
The development, called The Crossing on Granite Pointe, will ultimately be located on a piece of undeveloped land off Choquette Avenue currently owned by the golf course.
Council has publicly expressed their enthusiasm for incentivizing and encouraging affordable housing developments, and though the variance inspired a short debate on Monday evening, it passed.
“Without the variance the two units facing north would be 1,800 square feet, but now with the height variance the units on the main ground level won’t have semi-finished basements,” Davis said. “Under those will be 900-square foot bedroom plus den condominium-style townhomes.”
These two additional homes means the square footage of each unit will go down, also dropping the price overall.
Davis acknowledged it may seem counterintuitive to build affordable housing in such prime real estate, but said their choice is also an acknowledgement of the dire housing shortage Nelson is currently experiencing.
“We’re of the opinion that there are more buyers at the entry-level scale than there are at the higher end. This is a beautiful location and in most communities a golf course community would be premium, high-end properties,” he said.
“We’re trying to hit the broad market, and especially the entry level market.”
West applied told the Star he has already applied for a building permit.
“We were quite optimistic,” he said. “So staff should be reviewing it and we may have a building permit by month’s end.”
He hopes construction of the first building will be complete approximately 8 months later, around mid-April 2015. The second and third building are still in process, and may end up having to apply for the same height variance. But West said there’s no reason to think there will be any problems receiving approval.
“We’re hoping that the smaller units are going to be somewhere around the mid-250s, which is a price point that’s hard to find in our town.”
This partially addresses an earlier controversy, in which Nelson council members expressed concerns about West Creek’s offer to contribute $250 per unit to the city’s affordable housing fund.
At that time development manager David Wahn, who was since retired, said the contribution was fair under the circumstances.
“If these units were being sold for $500,000, that would be a different story,” he said. “To further tax these fairly-lower end properties [by making them pay more into the fund] would be penalizing some degree of affordability.”
Though there was initially some controversy about the development and a 20-person petition from neighbouring residents, West Creek believes it has done the appropriate planning to peacefully coexist with their neighbours.
For instance, West Creek plans to retain a water diversion that was once slated to be culverted.
“The irrigation diversion has been reviewed and our plan is to keep a portion of it open for aesthetic reasons. Quite a few residents in the neighbourhood really wanted to see that kept open,” he said.
“The golf course has the water license to culvert it completely, but we’ve negotiated with them and the Ministry of Environment and everybody’s on board to keep a portion of it open. It will be an amenity for the area.”
He said a redesign will address some of the concerns raised both by council and the community.
“We took the time to redesign the site a little further to get the building further from the existing multi-family residences that are right there, providing them with more privacy and space, as well as our new residents will have a buffer zone.”
With files from Sam Van Schie