Nova Scotia

Gottingen Terrace condo development a bust

Plans for a much-touted, low-cost condominium development on Gottingen Street have fallen through, making it harder for some people to start building equity.

'I wanted to have something on my own,' says wannabe tenant

The Creighton-Gerrish Development Association wanted to build on the empty lot across from the Halifax North Memorial Public Library. (Google)

Plans for a much-touted, low-cost condominium development on Gottingen Street have fallen through, making it harder for some people to start building equity.

The Creighton-Gerrish Development Association wanted to build on the old Sobeys lot across from the Halifax North Memorial Public Library.

The association is a partnership between the Black Business Initiative, the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association, Harbour City Homes and the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia.

Gottingen Terrace was supposed to be a 48-unit condo building, where the units would have been sold to owners at cost.

The group wanted to target first-time homeowners who are also low-income earners and already living in the north end.

In 2009, one-bedroom units were advertised for under $130,000, two bedrooms were $144, 000 and three-bedroom unites were advertised at $200,000.

To compare, a two-bedroom unit in the north end's new Q Lofts building range from $300,000 to $450,000.

Unconventional financing

It's a disappointment for long-time north ender Garry Chandler, who put down a $1,000 deposit to sign up for a one-bedroom unit.

All these empty lots they stuff. What are you creating? You are creating for people in a higher class level.- Garry Chandler

"I wanted to have something on my own. Plus I get tired of paying to a landlord all the time. The rent goes up and half the time you can't get stuff done that you want to get done. The people don't care about their properties," said the hospital worker.

Jim Graham, a board member with the association, says they spent the last 15 years trying to get the development off the ground.

"It wasn't through a lack of effort. From the beginning the project was challenged because of its unconventional nature. It really didn't fit the mould that private sector lenders were used to dealing with and it certainly didn't fit the mould of the [Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's] mortgage insurance program," he said.

"Those types of institution are not adept at making exceptions. Conventional financing was impossible to secure, to put it bluntly."

Graham says they looked elsewhere for support, including with the provincial Department of Community Services, but they were either turned down or plans fell through.

They tried to partner with a private-sector developer, but Graham says the association pulled out for financial reasons.

Land now for sale

"Personally I'm very,very disappointed the opportunity we saw to create affordable home ownership opportunities is not there. I'm disappointed because government institutions don't seem to be able to muster up the flexibility needed to makes some of these happen," he said.

Chandler says he can't afford the other condos in the area.

"There's just no way I could do that. You hear all the time people are looking for affordable places to live. Building condos and doing this. All these empty lots they stuff. What are you creating? You are creating for people in a higher class level. What happens to your people in the lower class? Do you kick them out where they live? Those people still need a place to live," he said

The association did return Chandler's deposit.

The land is now up for sale. The province's land registration database shows it's assessed at $1.3 million.

The money from the sale will go back to the groups that make up the the Creighton-Gerrish Development Association

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.