Riverfront rental apartments make a splash

Max Kerr, project manager for Riverport Flats, Richmond’s first rental apartment building in years, says not everyone wants a mortgage.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Max Kerr, project manager for Riverport Flats, Richmond’s first rental apartment building in years, says not everyone wants a mortgage.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

It offers what could be the best views of the Fraser River, new construction and a modern design. It’s also the first rental apartment building to arrive in Richmond in a long time.

“One of the things that drives the demand for this area is the setting, and it is the first rental building, purpose-built, in Richmond in a decade,” said Max Kerr, project manager for Riverport Flats, a new four-storey, 80-unit residential building near SilverCity Riverport.

Riverport Flats, 14088 Riverport Way, is a project from Legacy Park Lands, which also built the neighbouring 140-strata-unit Waterstone Pier in 2006.

Suites will be available to view at an open house this weekend, and tenants will begin moving in Feb. 1. Studio apartments as small as 400 square feet will rent for $885 per month, while larger two bedroom units measuring 775 square feet, will rent for as much as $1,600.

Suites on eastern side are so close to the river, views from the window provide tenants with the illusion they’re on the water.

Despite the limited interest among developers in building rental apartments given Metro Vancouver’s hot real estate market, Kerr there is demand for rental units. Even before the company launched its marketing campaign, 160 people had inquired about potentially renting a suite.

“It really comes down to affordability. Even if there is that demand and thirst for property ownership, you still ultimately require that down payment,” he said, noting not everyone wants to be saddled with a mortgage and tied down in a particular area.

Added perks for renters are one-year transit passes, a year of high-speed Internet and cable included in rent, and proximity to amenities such as Watermania, Gold’s Gym and a 3.6-hectare (nine-acre) informal park given to the city by the developer.

Legacy Park Lands is also planning a further 55-rental-unit complex on its final parcel of former industrial land in the area.

According to city planners, purpose-built rental housing increases housing options for those who can’t—or don’t wish to—buy. It also relieves pressure on market rental vacancy rates, which according to Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation have averaged just 1.5 per cent here for the past decade.

Some larger developments have included a small number of rental units in their projects—fulfilling the city’s affordable housing requirements—but purpose-built rental buildings haven’t materialized.

Several years ago, W.T. Leung Architects had pitched a plan, on behalf of Minoru Investments Ltd., to build 113 rental units as part of a quartet of high-rises on Minoru Boulevard, but nothing was ever built.

New rental housing for seniors, however, has come on the market in recent years, including the 144-unit Maple Residences at 4071 Chatham St.

City spokesperson Ted Townsend said staff are also processing an application proposing to redevelop Kiwanis Court on Minoru Boulevard. That project calls for 296 units of rental housing for seniors.

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