More affordable rental suites for seniors will be available in Red Deer once the Coronation Inn on Ross Street is converted into apartments, says the property’s owner.
“We need more affordable housing for seniors in this city,” said building owner Frances Ding, who received a $3.3-million federal/provincial grant for the extensive renovation project that’s expected to be completed by the spring of 2013.
Ding noted that a 2010 City of Red Deer study indicated suitable and affordable housing is one of the most pressing issues for seniors. Some 48 per cent of elderly people were found to be spending more than 30 per cent of their incomes on rental accommodations.
Once the Coronation Centre apartments are completed, people aged 55 and older, with low to moderate incomes, will have access to 33 more rental units. The year-long construction project at 4707 Ross St. will begin in February and create 30 one-bedroom, and three two-bedroom suites. Five of the total will be suitable for people in wheelchairs.
Ding isn’t sure yet what the rental costs will be, but believes the suites on the second, third and fourth floors of the building will cost less than $650 a month.
The building, to be called Coronation Centre, will still have commercial spaces available on the main floor. In fact, Ding said the tunnel that allowed motorists from Ross Street to drive under part of the hotel to access the rear parking lot will to be filled in to create more commercial space.
“We have to do that to make the building more energy efficient,” she added. The windows and furnace will also be changed to higher efficiency ones.
Ding hasn’t hired a construction firm yet and isn’t sure what the final renovation cost will be, but believes it could exceed the $3.3-million grant.
She believes the affordable apartment project will be well received, since two-thirds of seniors in Red Deer have low to moderate incomes.
Planning for future seniors’ housing needs is important, Ding added, since a growing number of people will be affected by the lack of suitable housing in Red Deer. The percentage of those older than 65 is expected to grow from 9.8 per cent of the population to 14.9 per cent by 2026.