Rental home development activity in downtown Victoria is at levels not seen in decades with nearly 1,000 units currently under construction or in-planning, according to Citified's data.
As low interest rates give lenders incentives to seek out long-term stable income generating opportunities, would-be condo developers are altering course to fill both a void for quality rentals and tap into investment capital bullish on Victoria.
"There is demand for new rental housing in Victoria with the low 1.5% vacancy rate, and with the slow absorption rate for new pre-sale condos it can be a challenge to meet financial pre-sale requirements," said developer Dave Chard of Chard Development.
Although new downtown housing has been almost exclusively in the form of condos, developers have sold a sizable number of units to investors who in turn made the homes available for rent, a trend not gone unnoticed by the industry.
"Since our experience with The 834 [condo tower] where there were many investor buyers who rented their suites, we have been interested in bringing the 'new condo' experience to the primary rental market," Chard said.
Chard's upcoming rental tower at 819 Yates Street, the company's first departure from an all-condo line-up, will be starting construction this summer on a parking lot behind the former Capital Six theatre. The design calls for 15-storeys above Yates Street and 11-storeys above View Street. 819 Yates will include 209 one and two bedroom units between 508 and 1,052 square feet with 6,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space fronting onto Yates Street. Completion is expected in 2018.
At 1075 Pandora Avenue and Cook Street Cox Developments will be starting construction on a 13-storey, 138 unit rental tower by early fall. One and two bedroom homes will range between 400 and 1,200 square feet. 7,800 square feet of commercial space will occupy the tower's ground floor.
59 units between 280 and 700 square feet are coming to 840 Fort Street in the form of a six storey woodframe development on the Sawyer Sewing site. 700 square feet of retail space will be available on the ground floor. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.
Proposed for 701 Belleville Street is a mixed-use rental, condo and commercial seniors residence by Concert Properties. 133 of the 175 units are envisioned as rentals with a full range of services for seniors. A restaurant or commercial space will be situated at the corner of Belleville Street and Douglas Street. There is currently no set date for a construction start.
On Caledonia Street at Blanshard Street a 14-storey tower consisting of 110 rental units will be built as the second phase of Townline's Hudson Walk development at the Hudson District. The building will offer similar styling and unit layouts as its 16-storey, 178 unit counterpart currently under construction. Both towers will feature studios, one and two bedroom apartments and townhomes will present a unique rental opportunity in the first phase. Ground floor commercial spaces will be available in both phases. Phase one will be completed next year and phase two in 2017.
Nearing completion at Blanshard and Yates streets is the 97 unit Dominion Rocket Residences, a heritage conversion of the former Dominion Hotel into studio apartments. Occupancy is expected in August pending a parking variance that the developer hopes will result in food trucks permitted on an adjacent parking lot over standard parking.
65 units of subsidized rentals in a seven storey concrete lowrise with five floors of apartments and two floors of office and commercial space, dubbed Azzurro, is in the early stages of construction at Blanshard and Discovery streets. The developer, the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society, plans to have studio and one bedroom homes available for rent by the fall of next year. C
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