Large apartment complex planned for Vanier East

Red Deer’s tight housing rental market could loosen a bit next year with the addition of 232 apartment units in Vanier East.

Red Deer’s tight housing rental market could loosen a bit next year with the addition of 232 apartment units in Vanier East.

The city’s municipal planning commission has given site development approval for the construction of four multi-family buildings at 39 Van Slyke Way, in the southeast corner of Red Deer. The four-storey buildings will contain 72, 64, 48 and 48 units, with these consisting of one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The developer, Highstreet Ventures Inc. of Kelowna, also plans to construct an amenity building with a coffee lounge and small gym. Dave Slobodan, Highstreet’s director of development, placed the cost of the project at about $25 million. Work could be underway by June, he said, with all four buildings to be constructed concurrently.

“We’re looking at 14 to 18 months for completion for the entire project, but we could have the first building in 12 to 14 months.”

As part of its approval, the commission granted a 12 per cent relaxation of the minimum required landscaped area, as well as relaxations of the minimum required site area, and the minimum rear-yard setback for one of the buildings.

Administration acknowledged that the housing density for the site will be high — about 117 dwelling units per hectare. That will push up the density for the subdivision, resulting in 793 dwelling units for the entire quarter section, as compared with the 758 contemplated in the neighbourhood area structure plan.

Kim Fowler, director of Planning Services with the city, pointed out that council has adopted a development strategy that recognizes the need for diverse and affordable housing options. With many people unable to afford single-family dwellings, and the local rental housing vacancy rate at less than two per cent, this type of project is needed, she said.

Development officer Vicki Swainson said that the higher density can be justified by the fact that 123 of the complex’s 357 parking stalls will be underground. She added that a city-owned public utility lot that intersects the site will add about 900 square metres of green space.

The relaxations were still more than Peter Holloway, a citizen representative on the commission, was prepared to support.

“I believe it’s over-developed, and I believe they could comply with the (land-use) bylaw.”

Other commission members also expressed misgivings about the density of the project, but felt its benefits outweighed such concerns.

“I’m going on the element of risk and trusting that it will serve our community well and that we’ll have housing for our citizens,” said Coun. Dianne Wyntjes.

Notification of Highstreet’s proposal prompted three letters of objection from nearby landowners. They expressed concerns about impacts on property values and traffic levels, as well as the potential for more transient residents in the area and the buildings falling into disrepair.

City administration said there was no evidence that any of these problems would occur.

The site is bordered by 19th Street to the south and Vermont Avenue to the west, with a large park area and municipal reserve lands to the east.

Slobodan said his company is very active in Alberta, with apartments in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Fort McMurray and Airdrie. He said Highstreet has been seeking a suitable site lot in Red Deer for some time.

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