WINNIPEG – There could soon be a solution to the lack of student housing around the University of Manitoba.
Ontario-based developer Rise Real Estate has purchased the land where a Dairy Queen sits at the corner of Pembina Highway and Bison Drive, right across from campus, CJOB reported Monday morning.
Vice-president of business development Brian McMullan said the idea is to build a 14-storey student housing complex.
“With about 140 units, in our world about 350 beds,” he said, “with many amenities, amenities that I think will set the bar pretty high in the Winnipeg area.”
The complex would include a full-service fitness centre, fireplaces, common study areas and theatre rooms, he said.
Rent would start at $495, rising to a maximum of $725 depending on the unit.
“We feel there’s a market, there’s a need and that we’re in a good position to fill that need,” McMullan said.
He estimates the cost of building the complex at more than $50 million.
A byproduct of the lack of available student housing now has been a huge spike in illegal rooming houses in residential areas around campus.
Some houses on streets around the school are owned by landlords who rent small rooms out to students for cheap rent but many of the houses don’t meet city and provincial codes for safety.
South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes said the problem is as bad as it’s ever been.
“Often some of these houses have six, eight, 10 students living in them. Students like to party on the weekends and in the evenings and when you’ve got kids next door in a home and you’ve got to go to school and work and you’ve got a party house beside you, that’s not conducive to good sleeps or regular schedules.”
There are currently 300 to 500 students on a wait list for housing and international students are especially at risk because they might not know their rights when it comes to safety, she said.
Lukes said she’s asked the City of Winnipeg for a list of complaints from residents fed up with the rooming houses and a corresponding list of which ones the city has inspected.
She’s forming a neighbourhood committee to look for solutions and is holding an open house on Sept. 30 at Investors Group Field.
Housing complex still not approved
McMullan believes his planned complex would go a long way towards easing concerns of people in the neighbourhood but it still needs to be approved by city hall.
The purchase of the Dairy Queen land has gone through, it’s just a matter of getting approvals and permits, he said.
“We find the pitch isn’t that difficult. We’re fulfilling a need in the community. It’s a good product, it’s a safe environment for students, it adds to the tax base. It also kind of helps to take pressure off single-family neighbourhoods, which I’ve found most mayors and councillors are quite receptive to.”
McMullan’s team will make their pitch at city hall this fall with the goal of getting approvals by early 2016. They would then start construction with a goal of being finished in 18 months, he said.
Rise Real Estate is holding an open house on their project on Oct. 6 at the Pinnacle Club at Investors Group Field from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.