Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Able Wholesale Apartment Conversion

Able Wholesale Erin & Notre Dame

Able Wholesale Looking North from Erin

Able Wholesale on Notre Dame

Able Wholesale Looking West on Notre Dame
Some projects that come across the city's desk truly are innovative and bold.

One of the last projects with excitement to it was the Avenue and Hample apartment conversion. That $12.4 million dollar construction took a few years to get done and needed $3.8 million in city and provincial funding to be completed.

It is probable that had government not helped that these two buildings would have continued to decay along Portage Avenue.  It has certainly inspired the developers to continue to build and they are doing work along Princess Street now.

The problem with the downtown housing development is that it is so expensive and risky that government money is always involved.  That is not to say that government money is not used in the suburbs as well. A new suburb like Waverley West receives a huge amount of infrastructure support in the form of roads, water, sewer, policing, paramedics, fire and the big ticket item: schools.

The developer does the initial layout but the costs quickly mount especially as the density is lost and the suburbs stretch out many kilometers from city center.

We are increasingly hearing exasperation from Bridgwater and South Pointe about the lack of schools for a quickly growing child population. The province should not be surprised as they are the developer of much of the land in the area.  In the end, the slush fund of money the NDP government expected from developing Waverley West is going to be eaten up by building at east six new schools for the area.

The subsidy to help bring people to where existing infrastructure is doesn't seem as bad when seen in retrospect.

But it doesn't always have to be that way.

In the meeting of Executive Policy Committee this week, we see two proposals to approve infill housing. One of them I already described in regards to Charleswood off Laxdal where 23 houses are proposed. It is an excellent use of the land and will help Royal School down the street with future students.

The other proposal is for land off Erin at Notre Dame. The Free Press mentioned a bit about the proposal in December. It has been refined a bit to finally go before council.

In a nutshell, it is to turn the former Able Wholesale building into around 72 rental apartments. Wintec Services is acting as developer and said they expected the conversion to cost around $4.5 million. That seems a little low for an older building but I expect we will hear more in the next days.

I expect the city will approve this development which doesn't appear to ask for money and which will be able to use existing infrastructure and schools. In short, it is a good use for an old building and helps increase density and better efficiencies for the city.

Floor Plans for Able Wholesale
Able Wholesale Conversion

Other things are happening along Notre Dame as well.

Spa Investments also wants to develop a strip mall across the street from Able Wholesale. Presently, it is home to Robin's Donuts. I have not seen anything in the form of a plan for what is said to be 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of space. Perhaps the housing across the street will help dictate what goes in the mall.

Farther down Notre Dame, the conversion plans for the Christie Biscuits/MWG Apparel building into the Specialized Services for Children and Youth Centre proceed. The Christie building is a fine building and this sounds like an excellent use.

It is easy to get discouraged sometimes in regards to the city. Despite the fact so much is available in terms of information on certain things the city does, it is poorly communicated.

Often some developers toil in obscurity, only revealed in zoning changes or once their projects are complete. No extra money is asked for and yet the city benefits greatly from the work.

Wintec's other apartment work was snapped up by Health Science Centre workers at Beverley and Notre Dame.

Beverley at Notre Dame

30 Apartment Beverley Street Block
So hats off to business people who have seen a need and have invested in their work and who make the city a better place.

3 comments:

Portage & Main said...

Good analysis,and I generally agree with you, but have to take issue with your paragraph equating government subsidies for downtown developments with government services to the burbs:

"The problem with the downtown housing development is that it is so expensive and risky that government money is always involved. That is not to say that government money is not used in the suburbs as well. A new suburb like Waverley West receives a huge amount of infrastructure support in the form of roads, water, sewer, policing, paramedics, fire and the big ticket item: schools."

I think downtown residents expect water, sewer, policing, paramedics and fire service too. As worthwhile as downtown redevelopment might be, grants and services are not the same.

mrchristian said...

Cool. I've been sort of pecking away at a history of the Able building. I'll certainly link to this when I get it done.

I knew there was housing but didn't realize it was a conversion. I thought the building was being demo'd.

A lot of changes in store for that corner in the next couple of years !

Riverman said...

There was an annex on the east side that was demoed. It took quite awhile as it was wood beam construction and it appeared the large beams were salvaged.