Construction begins on new Charlottetown micro unit apartments after 2 year delay
Work on a new apartment complex in downtown Charlottetown is going ahead after more than two years of delays.
Construction started this week on a four-storey building on Richmond Street by APM Group that will house 23 micro units.
Charlottetown city council had originally approved the project in 2017. That was appealed to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC), which eventually gave the project the green light.
But Tim Banks, CEO of APM Group, says the delays have also postponed the completion date and driven up the $4.7 million construction price tag.
He estimates the delays and the legal challenges have added $440,000 to the overall cost of the project, and that'll mean higher rents for tenants.
"I think that equates to about $110 a month rent that we now have to add on to what we were originally proposing just to recover the costs of the delay," said Banks, adding the original goal was to have rents under $1,000 a month.
"At the end of the day, I'm not taking that $400,000 out of my back pocket. I'm going to have to put it onto the rent."
More apartments, more parking
It's one of several major developments underway or set to get underway in the capital city.
Nearby work is being planned for a $30-million, eight-storey apartment building on Haviland Street, which will have 99 units.
UPEI is also hoping to break ground soon on a new, 260-bed residence on its campus. That's a $60-million project.
In addition, the city has just started work on a $3.2-million expansion to the Fitzroy Street parkade which will add 100 new parking spaces.
Despite the pandemic, the city's permits for the first quarter of 2020 (January, February, and March) were up by more than $10-million in terms of construction values compared to last year and last year was a record year for building permits in the city.
In 2019, the city of Charlottetown approved building permits amounting to more than $150-million.
'I think there will be a slow return'
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says he's hoping for another strong construction year. He said it is his hope that any projects that were delayed because of the pandemic earlier this year will go ahead now that some of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being lifted.
"There are a number of other projects in the queue that have been put on hold because of COVID-19 and I think there will be a slow return," said Brown.
But Brown said the city may not reach last year's record high because of the pandemic.
"Probably not because our first quarter was interrupted by the start of COVID-19 and how long this will go on still remains to be seen."
The city is also getting closer to announcing a location for a new fire hall in the north end.
Banks, though, doesn't share the mayor's enthusiasm for another strong construction year. "Not a chance," he said.
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