Developers plan for tallest building in Yukon

The proposed building — Mah's Point Two — would be eight storeys high and have 40 condo units.

Proposed eight-storey building would have 40 condo units and commercial space

More retirees are staying in Yukon, says Glenn Munro, an advisor to the development group behind Mah's Point Two. The developers are marketing the units to seniors. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Developers are moving ahead with plans to build the tallest building in Yukon.

The eight-storey building would have 40 condominiums and one floor of commercial space. 

Glenn Munro, who is an advisor to the developers' numbered company, says it will change the skyline of downtown Whitehorse.

He also promises the best view in town. 

The developers are the same group who built Mah's Point, a six-storey building on Second Avenue, that was completed in 2013.

The new building will be named after entrepreneur and property developer Tippy Mah, here shown at Chinese New Years' celebrations in 2015. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The new building — Mah's Point Two — would be five metres higher. It would occupy a corner lot across the street from the first building.

Both are named after Tippy Mah, an entrepreneur and property developer. 

Target market of seniors

Munro says the development group is marketing the condos to retirees, especially snowbirds. 

"The concept of this building is consistent with what's going on in British Columbia. Folks are retiring in Yukon, whereas they used to leave the Yukon, typically," he said. 

The new building would join Mah's Point (the red and grey building) in promoting a denser, more vertical development in Whitehorse. The 40-unit building would exceed Mah's Point by two storeys. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"We're looking at a market where folks can sell their home in Whitehorse and buy a condo in this building. If they want to travel in the winter, they can walk away without concern about maintenance or security," he said. 

The Yukon Bureau of Statistics projects Yukon will surpass 40,000 residents by 2021. 

Densification is a word that's often used in the British Columbia context and other large cities. I guess this is, in a sense, the beginning in Whitehorse- Glenn Munto , advisor to developers 

That growth is being seen mainly in Whitehorse, as fewer people are living in remote communities.  

"Densification is a word that's often used in the British Columbia context and other large cities. I guess this, in a sense, is the beginning in Whitehorse," Munro said. 

Condo units will start around $370,000.

The new building would be across the street from Mah's Point which was completed in 2013 by the same developers. It would be two storeys taller. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

City bylaws changed in 2012 to allow higher buildings

Dave Pruden is the City of Whitehorse's manager of bylaw services. 

He says the city sees value in densification. 

One reason is the potential effect on traffic. Residents have been dealing with congestion during the morning commute

A rendering shows the $20-million building which could be complete in 2019. Developers are looking to sell most of the condos in advance to finance construction. (Coldwell Banker)

The city's bylaws used to restrict the height of buildings in downtown Whitehorse, but that was changed in 2012 to allow higher buildings. This new project will reach the maximum allowed height of 25 metres.

"There's a lot of doctrine in the city-planning regime that is promoting greater development downtown," Pruden said. 

Pruden says the building does have some restrictions on design. 

One stipulation is that floors above 20 metres "step back" at least two metres from the property line. Pruden says that "reduces that imposing feature at the street level."

Stop-work order halts little pop-up store

Developers are looking to sell 60 per cent of the condos before construction. This would help finance the $20-million building.

So far, there has been one snag when it comes to permitting — though it deals with condo sales, and not the building itself.

On Jan. 17, the construction company Ketza Group placed a mobile office on the site, intended to display a version of the condos' interior to prospective clients. 

The City of Whitehorse recently issued a 'stop work' order on a pop-up shop intended to welcome clients on the site. Both sides don't foresee any further problems and call it a minor administrative issue. The order does not affect plans for the condo building. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The City of Whitehorse ordered work to stop. Pruden says it's a matter of procedure being followed.

However, both sides call it a minor administrative issue, and don't foresee further problems. 

"We just hadn't had a chance to issue those permits yet, and we like to see permits issued before anything happens on the site. The stop work permit is saying basically to sit tight until we can get those permits out the door," Pruden said. 

"They're not very complicated for temporary buildings, so I don't have any concerns we'll get that sorted out." 

The same mobile office had been used to showcase Mah's Point a few years ago before construction and had been approved without issue.

Josie Martin, who is one of the agents on the project with Coldwell Banker, calls the stop-work order a "minor glitch" which will not affect the building plans in any way.  


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