Affordability gets Place of its own
Mcpherson Place in The Bridges offers low-rent and attainable housing
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.
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.