Construction should start this fall, says Community Living Atikokan head
M.McKinnon| April 20, 2020| Atikokan Progress
CMHC will underwrite the Aspen Court Senior Housing project here.
“Construction should start in the fall,” said Jim Turner, executive director of Community Living Atikokan, the agency behind the project.
The agency was actually caught by surprise, at least a little bit, when the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. reached out with the news.
“With all the COVID-19 stuff going on, we thought everything would be on hold. But no, CMHC staff were working from home, so our application kept moving forward.”
CMHC has agreed to underwrite the entire project cost of over $12 million (contingent, of course, upon Community Living completing its due diligence). That too was something of a surprise. Community Living, after looking at how CMHC had backed similar projects in other locations, had expected that it would have to cover up to twenty percent of project costs.
“I think that speaks to the quality of the application and the need here,” said Turner. “[Getting full backing] was a huge win for us.”
Community Living will have to raise about $200,000 in contributions to demonstrate community buy-in on the project. (Anyone interested in helping with that effort should contact Turner, 597-2020. Community Living Atikokan does have charitable status for income tax purposes.)
It will also have to cover HST on the project up front; most of that will be refunded through the regular sales tax system.
CVG Builders has its architects working on a detailed design now, and estimates construction should take about a year.
“We continue to be impressed with CVG,” said Turner. “Their project management is spot on. They are very organized; nothing is being left to chance.”
In addition to getting fund-raising off the ground (it hopes to launch at the end of May), Community Living Atikokan is contracting to have site and soils assessments completed, and working with the Town to have the property transferred.
The revised project plan calls for one building with interior hallways and a central entrance at the former site of Elmcrest Terrace between Elm Street and Willow Road. It will include thirty-one two-bedroom units (830 square feet each) and seven one-bedroom units (670 sq.ft.). All of them will be fully accessible (i.e., wheelchair and walker friendly) and have a small patio space.
The building will have central air conditioning, a back-up generator to maintain power in the event of a blackout, a central recreation area (lounge, dining room, covered patio), a central laundry room, and a walking trail around the building with access from each unit (via the patio door).
Earlier this year Community Living put out a call for those who might be interested in living in the new development and got about seventy responses. Turner emphasized these were expressions of interest, not commitments.
“We won’t start releasing units until construction is well underway, and we will give everyone lots of notice. They will be awarded to seniors on a first come, first served basis.”
At least eleven units will be made available on a rent-geared to income basis; there will be different application requirements for those.