Purpose-built rental housing is soon destined for the corner of Tillicum and Burnside roads, as the old commercial buildings were recently torn down to make way for 104 rental units.
Two colourful, six-storey buildings – Herons Landing and The Ardea – will offer rental apartments, owned and operated by EY Properties.
And while this is the first purpose-built rental project in Saanich in 25 years, Mayor Frank Leonard says the housing market has made it so that most condo building owners are having to rent units to stay afloat.
“Certainly what (EY Properties is) doing, a business focused entirely on being property managers on buildings that they own, is quite unique,” Leonard said.
“But certainly those who are building condos are finding there’s a significant percentage being bought and rented out, even some developers are building, selling some and having to rent others.”
Leonard says he’s been talking recently with a developer who wants to build in the Saanich core.
“His business plan shows 40 per cent being rented by him. He figures in three years of sales he can have 60 per cent of the units sold,” Leonard said. “He’s going to start renting 40 per cent right away just so he has cash flow. These are the things they have to present to the bank … because they’re not going to believe the business plan when it shows 100 per cent sales right away.”
The rental buildings planned for Tillicum and Burnside, which will also include ground-floor commercial space, were approved by Saanich council in June 2011.
At the time neighbours were concerned about a large parking variance that could see car owners having to park on nearby residential roads.
But Ernie Yakimovich of EY Properties agreed to a council covenant – which is standard practice in EY’s other rental buildings – that suites are only rented to tenants with cars when parking is available. As well, because the building is deemed affordable rental housing, there is less demand for parking stalls than at a condo building.
Overall, Saanich is looking to increase housing density in the Tillicum and Burnside area due to nearby transit routes and amenities, such as the Tillicum Centre.
Angela Oakley, property manager for EY Properties, says they’re still waiting to get the building permit issued from Saanich, but once that’s complete, they’ll start construction on what is now an empty lot.
Rent, she said, will range from $800 to $1,700 a month, depending on the size and number of rooms in the unit.