First new downtown residential unit completed with help of Heart of Our City grant

WATCH ABOVE: The first residential apartment is complete with help of a new housing incentive program from the city of Lethbridge. Quinn Campbell reports.

LETHBRIDGE – Transforming an open space above Echo Used Books into an apartment has been a labour of love for Joceyln Pelletier and her daughter Elise.

After nearly a year of renovations, they are moved into their downtown apartment.

“This apartment has been done for not even two months probably, and then the other apartment, which will be our family home, it has three bedrooms and three baths.  It will hopefully be done by January,” said Jocelyn Pelletier.

The upper floor of the building will have two units, a smaller bachelor suite and a larger family suite.  The transformation of the building has been a long process. It was built in 1909 and used as a pool hall and bowling alley.

Grant money from the Heart of Our City Incentive Program helped make the dream apartment a reality.

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Chairperson with the program, Mark Bellamy, says the money is a great investment for the city.

“This was a program that was approved by city council in the last budget, a total of $1.6 million to encourage new housing units in downtown Lethbridge, which is the heart of our city,” said Bellamy

Pelletier says the financial boost from the city was a huge help in finishing the apartment.

“Anyone who’s done a renovation knows that money is certainly a part of renovation, so this is a fantastic boost and we are very, very grateful to the city to see what we saw and we want more people, more neighbor.  We want to live downtown with people.”

The apartment is the first to be completed through the incentive program.  City Councilor Ryan Parker hopes this will spur even more building in the downtown.

“We are allocating $30 thousand per door, in regard to per new unit, and if you look at the math, $1.6 million.  It’s just over 50 units which could be approved over this next budget cycle.”

The apartments have also been made as “green” as possible, with solar panels on the roof, extensive re-insulation, hot water heating and three-pane gas filled windows.