New condo development offers different lifestyle

A new condominium development set to break ground in the downtown in the next month is trying to offer a different kind of lifestyle to Red Deer residents.

A new condominium development set to break ground in the downtown in the next month is trying to offer a different kind of lifestyle to Red Deer residents.

Environmentally-sustainable, community-focused and close to amenities in the downtown, the Swerve Living project has 36 units — 20 that will be for sale and 16 that will be used as rental properties at 10 per cent below the market rate for apartments of a similar quality.

An additional two affordable housing units will be created and located above Sunworks in downtown Red Deer and also offer rent at a lower than market rate.

The 18 units are part of a provincial and federal funding initiative known as the Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Program.

The 18-unit project received a little more than $3 million in funding, split between the provincial government and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in 2006.

Katrina Bluetchen, a spokesperson with Alberta Seniors and Community Supports, said the program is to encourage the construction of affordable housing units in Alberta.

“As you know there is a big need for that in Alberta. It’s our goal to create 11,000 spaces by 2012,” she said. “So this is part of that effort.”

Paul Harris, one of the developers of Swerve Living, said the rental units will likely be used by seniors, students and those working in specific industries that don’t offer a high salary.

He said they plan to develop a rental application form to help determine who will eventually live in the units.

Twenty of the condominiums are currently for sale in prices ranging from $219,900 to $484,900.

The other 16 condos will be purchased by a holding company, owned by Harris, and eventually rented, along with the two above Sunworks.

The condominiums are close to a bus stop and a grocery store and have all of the amenities a person would need within walking distance, Harris said.

He said it is a shift in the way people are living in North America towards more high-density living. He said people are realizing that the 1950s paradigm of having the house in the suburbs with the lawn, car in the garage, dog and three kids may not be what they want.

“They’re looking at their lifestyle and thinking if I didn’t have to cut that lawn and I didn’t have a car and they go down the list of all the things they’re doing and paying for, (if they didn’t have to do all those things) they could write that book they’ve always wanted to do or spend more time in parks or be more culturally active,” he said. “There are all these other parts of people’s lives that change as a result of how we build our physical accommodations.”

Swerve Living is designed in a U-shape, with the condominiums’ balconies looking in on a centre court, where people can hang out or barbecue. Harris said the idea behind the design is to allow people to get to know their neighbours.

The building will be made of concrete and steel rather than stick-frame construction, which increases the cost of the project, but also the durability of the building. The project offers triple-glazed windows and has the capacity to eventually add solar and wind power on to the building. The condominiums won’t have natural gas, but instead use electricity, with owners purchasing solar and wind power through Enmax.

“I believe that just because you don’t have as much money you shouldn’t have to live in the slums. You should have the opportunity of living in a pretty place,” said Adèle Poratto Mullen, another one of the developers of the project. “Then you have people around you who will help you grow and build your life with the community aspect of the building.”

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