Af­ford­abil­ity gets Place of its own

Mcpher­son Place in The Bridges of­fers low-rent and at­tain­able hous­ing

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - CLAIRE YOUNG

The gran­ite coun­ter­tops are go­ing in and maple cab­i­nets are be­ing in­stalled inside.

Out­side, the win­dows, cladding and brick de­tails wrap around the six-storey con­crete build­ing are be­ing fin­ished.

It’s all part McPher­son Place as it nears com­ple­tion.

The 160-unit at­tain­able hous­ing project is the first build­ing to get un­der­way in the sec­ond phase of The Bridges rede­vel­op­ment — which is be­ing built on the site of the for­mer Cal­gary Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Bridgeland.

No other project has yet bro­ken ground in the sec­ond phase of the rede­vel­op­ment. The City of Cal­gary has bought 58 units in McPher­son Place for low­in­come rental hous­ing, while the re­main­der of the units are buyer-owned through a shared eq­uity pro­gram to keep costs down for in­di­vid­u­als.

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The units sold out within four months of go­ing on the mar­ket in July 2011. There is a wait­ing list of about 45 names.

As part­ners in the project, pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and city of­fi­cials re­cently had a chance to tour a suite at McPher­son Place as the build­ing ap­proached the fin­ish line,

Peo­ple are expected to be able to take pos­ses­sion of their units in De­cem­ber.

Al­berta Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ric McIver who is also MLA for Cal­gary-Hays, was on hand.

“I’m just notic­ing what I don’t hear,” he com­mented as he stood next to a wall of win­dows over­look­ing six lanes of traf­fic on Memo­rial Drive with a beau­ti­ful view of the chang­ing fall colours along the river. “I don’t hear traf­fic and be­lieve me, you’d be able to hear lots of traf­fic if the win­dows weren’t good.”

The triple-glazed win­dows are only a part of the qual­ity of­fered in the con­crete build­ing, says Dan Van Leeuwen, pres­i­dent of New Ur­ban Con­sult­ing.

The com­pany part­nered with In­House At­tain­able Hous­ing So­ci­ety to cre­ate McPher­son Place. Units were built to the same stan­dard as the rest of the projects in the Bridges so their value will be re­tained as they change hands in the fu­ture.

“If you build a cheap prod­uct, af­ter 10 years, the value is go­ing to be poor,” says Van Leeuwen. “This unit is in­dis­tin­guish­able from the other units for sale up the street.”

In­te­ri­ors fea­ture gran­ite coun­ter­tops, five ap­pli­ances, solid maple cab­i­nets, ce­ramic tile and lam­i­nate hard­wood.

To keep costs down, there is no cus­tomiza­tion be­ing done on the units, al­though buy­ers can choose be­tween two colour pack­ages.

While the mar­ket value of the 644-square-foot unit on the tour would be about $260,000, the av­er­age price for one-bed­room units for buy­ers is $184,000.

Pur­chasers con­trib­ute up to 70 per cent of the mar­ket value of the home through a mort­gage in­sured by Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Corp. In­House At­tain­able Hous­ing So­ci­ety car­ries the bal­ance of the pur­chase price.

“Be­cause we were able to make the land agree­ment with the city — and the de­vel­oper and my­self were able to con­trib­ute our eq­uity and value in cre­at­ing the project over a longer pe­riod of time — we can buy the unit down by that value,” says Van Leeuwen.

“Where a lot of pro­grams are a lent five per cent down pay­ment, we’re ac­tu­ally con­tribut­ing 35 per cent of the unit value at a noin­t­er­est cost. We’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in the unit with the pur­chaser.”

Lent down pay­ment refers to af­ford­able hous­ing pro­grams that gift or lend the five per cent down pay­ment re­quired by CMHC.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment pro­vided a grant of more than $1.4 mil­lion to McPher­son Place to off­set gaps be­tween the mort­gage that an in­di­vid­ual buyer qual­i­fies for and what In­House can carry.

“These funds helped 36 peo­ple qual­ify who earn sig­nif­i­cantly less,” says Judy Hoad, chair­woman of In­House At­tain­able Hous­ing So­ci­ety. “The in­vest­ment stays with the unit.”

Of the 160 units, most are onebed­room units, with 20 per cent built as two-bed­rooms and a hand­ful of stu­dios.

The rea­son most are one-bed­rooms is the hope that peo­ple will “out­grow” them and be able to use the eq­uity they’ve built to move on to some­thing larger, leav­ing the unit to as­sist an­other per­son in need to do the same, says Van Leeuwen. IN­FOR­MA­TION: Visit mcpher­son place.ca, or in­hous­eso­ci­ety.org

Project to in­clude units for mod­er­ate in­come buy­ers.

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Cal­gary Her­ald/files

Dan Van Leeuwen of New Ur­ban Con­sult­ing, and Judy Hoad of In­House At­tain­able Hous­ing So­ci­ety, in a unit in McPher­son Place as the project nears com­ple­tion.

Dan Van Leeuwen of New Ur­ban Con­sult­ing and Judy Hoad of In­House Af­ford­able Hous­ing So­ci­ety stand near the project in May.

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