The City of Armstrong is looking to partner up with a developer for a much discussed affordable housing project on recently rezoned land, and staff are putting an emphasis on housing local residents first.
The city has prepared the parcel at 3445 Adair Street — land near the Nor-Val Arena that was previously zoned as park space — for a commercial project that would provide up to 80 units of affordable housing in the form of two apartment complexes up to four storeys tall.
Following a recommendation from council, staff have put together an Expression of Interest (EOI) to find a developer that can design, construct and manage the facility — a recourse taken after the city’s Rapid Housing Initiative application was not successful in the first round of grant announcements.
The city is looking to enter a long-term lease for the Adair Street complex. In the EOI, the city states it would like to see the units set at a maximum rental price of $800 for one-bedroom units and $1,000 for two-bedrooms.
Council is interested in securing a local contract for the project’s construction where possible, and the hope is the eventual tenants will be local, too.
“City council would like the (proposed project) to house Armstrong residents in need of affordable housing,” reads the EOI, adding proposals from agencies should detail how they would ensure local residents are housed before any others.
In the pricing schedule attached to the EOI, construction costs for the site are estimated at around $283,000.
The Regional District of North Okanagan’s 2020 Housing Needs Assessment is the city’s basis for the project. The assessment found Armstrong has a need for 205 units, with affordability for rent being the need for most of those units.
The rezoning of the Adair Street property was contentious, with several residents speaking out against the motion at a virtual public hearing on Jan. 25. The motion ultimately passed with only Coun. Jim Wright opposed.
Most residents opposed to the rezoning were concerned about the loss of park space. But as Mayor Chris Pieper said at the time, the site was never intended to be a park. Rather, it had been zoned as such in 1994 when the city was doing a land inventory as part of a parks and recreation plan. The goal then was to separate all natural open spaces from other spaces the city planned to use for park purposes.
However, that plan wasn’t seen through. A new official community plan was adopted in 2014, but it didn’t delineate between active park space and more passive open spaces.
Council will review the EOI at its upcoming meeting Monday, May 10. If approved, the document will be released to potential developers.