Northern Vision Development (NVD) is applying for a $500,000 grant from the City of Whitehorse to help build 44 condo units on Waterfront Place.
The company has been issued a development permit for the project, which is the second phase of a plan that already includes 20 luxury condos on the Yukon River.
The new units, located at 36 and 38 Waterfront Place, will be available by fall 2019 and early winter 2019, said NVD CEO Rich Thompson.
Thompson said that while $500,000 may not seem like much in the scope of a $25 million project, any assistance helps.
“We haven’t built another one since (phase one in 2011) and that tells you all you need to know about how we did on phase one,” Thompson said, noting the company didn’t apply for a development incentive agreement at that time.
“In our case the margins on these projects are so skinny that without that, the project doesn’t even hit the hurdle we have for making sense. It’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s a critical-to-have.”
The development incentive policy was approved by Whitehorse city council in 2011. It’s designed to encourage development including rental housing, mixed-use development, multi-family houses, and supportive housing.
Proposed developments that meet the criteria are eligible for a yearly grant from the city, based on the increased taxes payable due to improvements on the property.
Major developments are eligible for up to $500,000, payable over 10 years.
Mélodie Simard, manager of planning and sustainability with the City of Whitehorse, told council on April 30 that the NVD project, which includes an underground parking garage, will use the $500,000 grant before the end of the 10 years.
She also said the administrative recommendation was for council to approve the plan.
Thompson said the units include one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and two penthouse apartments. He said square footage ranges from 1,130 square feet to 2,276, with the average size being 1,350 to 1,600 square feet.
A handful of units will be priced below $400,000, with the average being in the $500,000 to $650,000 range. Penthouse units will be priced in the $800,000 range.
Thompson said the majority of units will be sold as condos, but NVD will hold on to at least 10 of the units as rentals for executives.
During the April 30 council meeting, Coun. Betty Irwin said she was excited to see a development with underground parking, which she said the thinks should be part of large developments in Whitehorse in the future. She did say she thought it was unfortunate that the project seemed to be focussed on high-end buyers.
“I notice nowhere in this does the word affordable appear which is sort of indicative I think of what these units will probably be selling for.”
Thompson said he can’t yet say what the rental units will go for, as the company is still a year and a half away from that point.
“You don’t know what the demand is until you’re out there fulfilling it,” he said.
What he said the company does know, based on its experience with phase one of River’s Reach, and the city’s current rental market, is that there is demand for units.
The application will come before council May 7.
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