Richmond Review

Apartments aimed at single parent families

Cressey is proposing to demolish a long-standing Fitness World and build a three-building residential and commercial project, which includes rental homes for lone parent families.  -
Cressey is proposing to demolish a long-standing Fitness World and build a three-building residential and commercial project, which includes rental homes for lone parent families.
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An innovative development in Richmond's oval neighbourhood will offer 15 rental apartments reserved for low-income single-parent families, located in the same building as a child care centre.

"This project is the first of its kind in Richmond," said Coun. Linda McPhail. "It's just outstanding, and I really look forward to seeing this come on stream."

City council has granted Cressey (Gilbert) Development LLP first reading in a bid to rezone 5640 Hollybridge Way to allow 244 homes in three new buildings, along with a pocket park.

The site is now home to an industrial and office building containing a Fitness World.

Two of the proposed buildings will face Lansdowne Road and be high-rises: one 14 storeys, another 15 storeys. A third will face Elmbridge Way, stand five storeys and include 15 affordable homes and a 5,000-square-foot child care centre. All buildings will include street-level commercial, part of which could become a grocery store or pharmacy.

The city's affordable housing strategy requires developers of such projects to dedicate five per cent of total residential area to affordable housing, which is usually dispersed throughout a development.

"I normally don't agree that affordable housing should be clustered together," said Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt, vice-chair of council's planning committee.

But in the case, Halsey-Brandt said, lone parent families will benefit by getting access to support services.

Renters will be able to use the amenities of the main buildings—containing market housing—including a gym, squash court, saunas and lounge. They'll also get their own amenity room to host programs and events.

In a letter to the city, Hani Lammam, vice-president of development and applications for Cressey, said the design makes good sense.

"We feel strongly that grouping the affordable housing units within one (building) is the right thing to do and offers unique opportunities for partnering with non-profit special needs housing providers to address the core needs in the City of Richmond."

Two-bedroom units, measuring 740 square feet, will rent for $950 a month, and tenants must have income of $45,500 or less to qualify. The single 400-square-foot studio will rent for $800, and require a household income of $33,500 or less.

A non-profit affordable housing provider will be tasked with managing the units, while the childcare facility would be city-owned and also operated by a non-profit provider.

According to the 2006 Census, 775 lone parent families (655 female and 120 male) lived in Richmond and spent over half their income on rent. Most had one child.

If council gives final approval, the project could be completed as soon as mid-2015, according to a report from the city's Mark McMullen, senior co-ordinator of major projects.

"Overall, the subject development is a well-planned, attractive addition to the community that will contribute to the retail vitality, livability and amenity of the Oval Village and broader City Centre area," he noted.

Council's planning committee first considered Cressey's application last fall, but referred it back to staff to refine the affordable housing plan

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