PEI

Construction begins on new Charlottetown micro unit apartments after 2 year delay 

A major construction project is going ahead in downtown Charlottetown after more than two years of delays.  
Construction started this week on APM Group’s Richmond Street apartments. The four-storey building at 55 Richmond Street will be home to 23 micro units. (APM Group )

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.

This apartment complex will be located off Haviland Street between the Queen Charlotte Armoury and the Culinary Institute of Canada and in front of the Renaissance Place apartment building. (SableARC)

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. 

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says it is his hope that any construction projects that were delayed because of the pandemic earlier this year will go ahead now that some of the restrictions are being lifted. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"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.

Tim Banks stands at the construction site of a new apartment building on Richmond Street which will house 23 micro units. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

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About the Author

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer and video journalist in print, digital and TV for more than 20 years. He can be reached at Wayne.Thibodeau@CBC.ca

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