A rental building has been proposed as part of a development in Guildford, and the project received an early nod from Surrey council on Monday (Dec. 3).
If approved, the project would be the fourth purpose-built rental building in Surrey in recent years, after decades of no such buildings being constructed in the city.
In all, 108 apartments are proposed in what would be a five-storey rental building. Ten townhouse units are also planned, which would be sold as market housing.
According to a report to council, the 2.1-acre property, at 14477 103rd Avenue, is currently “devoid of any building and structures” and “is being utilized for unauthorized vehicle and bin storage,” but the owner has told the city they will remove them as soon as possible.
The applicant, Kelson Investments Ltd., requires council’s approval to rezone the property from RMC-135 (Residential Commercial 135) and CH1 (Highway Commercial Industrial) to Comprehensive Development. A development permit is also needed.
During a Dec. 3 meeting, city council unanimously voted to give first and second reading to the rezoning application, and the project is now headed to public hearing on Jan. 14.
In all, three buildings are envisioned: one would be the five-storey apartment building, and the other two would be two-storey townhouse units, one fronting 103rd Avenue and the other fronting 145th Street.
During the Dec. 3 council meeting, Councillor Steven Pettigrew said he is “reluctantly approving” the application to proceed to public hearing “because of the rental aspect,” but expressed concerns related to traffic and schools.
“It seems like it’s going to be quite challenging for them to get by the church,” Pettigrew said before the vote. “I’m hoping that this is going to be addressed through the project and also, the schools in the area. The elementary school is at 100 per cent capacity and Guildford Park is 130 per cent, so again this is more stress put upon our local schools.”
Eight elementary students and seven secondary students are projected from the development, a staff report notes.
Councillor Laurie Guerra asked the applicant how much the rental cost would be for the units, and was told it would be hard to say what the rents would be but the “best we know right now is about $2 per square foot.”
The apartments would range in size from 480 to 1,015 square feet and the townhouses, roughly 1,400.
If ultimately approved, the project would include a “Housing Agreement” that would establish a restrictive covenant stating the 108 apartments would be rented for a 20-year period. City council voted unanimously to give the agreement first, second and third reading during Dec. 3’s council meeting.
“The city may from time to time require that the owner of the building provide written proof of compliance with the Housing Agreement,” a city report notes.
Staff say the proposed density and building form are appropriate for this part of Guildford, and that it’s within a Frequent Transit Development Area.
But the city’s parks department has concerns about the pressure the project will place on existing parks, recreation and cultural facilities in the neighbourhood. In response to those concerns, the applicant has proposed a “voluntary amenity contribution,” on a per unit basis, totalling $177,423.70.
While the property has no protected trees, the applicant proposes to remove eight “undersized boulevard trees” along the north and south property lines, in order to build new sidewalks along 103A Avenue and 145th Street.
According to the report to council, city hall has heard no concerns from the public after pre-notification letters were mailed out Aug. 20.
The applicant aims to have the units ready for occupancy by mid to late 2020.
Another purpose-built rental building opened in Surrey recently, developed by WestStone Group. “Fusion” is a 146-unit apartment building located at 13555 96th Avenue, and people started moving in Nov. 1.
In September of 2017, Townlines Homes opened its rental building “The Bristol” in Cloverdale.
More than 2,000 people applied to live in the 97-unit building, located at 5738 175th Street.
The long-term rental housing project was the first of its kind to be built in Cloverdale in more than 30 years.
Another purpose-built rental project was completed in South Surrey in August 2016. The building is an inclusive rental-housing development planned by the Semiahmoo House Society.
It has 71 units, 20 of which are made available to tenants with developmental disabilities as rentals or long-term leases, and the remaining 51 units are offered to the general public at below-market rates.
-With files from Samantha Anderson and Lauren Collins