A shortage of affordable housing for seniors in Red Deer could soon be mitigated by a new apartment building.
The Piper Creek Lodge Foundation is seeking to develop the three-storey, 39-unit project at 4707 34th St. The heavily treed, 1.07-acre parcel is adjacent to other Piper Creek Foundation properties: Piper Creek Lodge, Barrett Kiwanis Place, Centennial Kiwanis Court and Canyon View Kiwanis Place.
On Monday, the city’s municipal planning commission gave site development approval for the building. Members heard that 36 of the units would contain one bedroom and three would have two bedrooms. Also proposed are 31 underground parking stalls and 37 surface stalls.
A large percentage of the native trees on the lot would have to be removed, although the developer plans to leave a number of the trees in place to screen the building from the street. Alternatively, it would establish a new tree stand.
“I had some trepidation about this site being developed,” said city manager Craig Curtis, adding, however, that he is pleased with the design.
City Councillor Buck Buchanan asked about the disproportionate number of one-room units proposed.
Cory Leniuk, who spoke on behalf of designer John Murray Architectural Associates Ltd., said single-room suites are the most marketable.
Speaking outside the meeting, Leniuk confirmed that the building would not be an assisted living facility or have a group dining area.
“It is just a regular apartment, but we are providing it with the intent that seniors will use it.”
Geoff Olson, executive director with the Piper Creek Foundation, said residents of the new building would likely have to be at least 65 years of age.
Their monthly rents would not be subsidized, he said, but the foundation has applied for a provincial grant to cover some of the construction costs. If successful, it should be able to charge rents at least 10 per cent below market rates.
Leniuk said the timelines for the project are uncertain at this point, although the Piper Creek Foundation wants to proceed as quickly as possible.
“They want this done sooner rather than later, so if all goes well we can expect us to be working through drawings in spring and then probably by summer, having this going.”
This urgency reflects the high demand for affordable housing among local seniors, said Olson.
“We have one other building that has the same demographic as this building — our waiting list is big enough to fill the building.”
He declined to comment on the budget for the project, but its cost was previously estimated at about $9 million.
Sam Denhaan, president of the Central Alberta Council on Aging, said the municipal planning commission’s approval of the Piper Creek Foundation project was “very good news.”
“We’re just hoping that the provincial government now comes with adequate funding so they can get started in the springtime.”
The foundation is also seeking funding to replace the 65-suite Piper Creek Lodge with a 151-unit lodge and apartment complex.