A seven-year effort to increase the city’s stock of affordable housing at 7 Wright Cres. may finally be moving ahead.
The former nun’s residence was purchased by the City of Kingston in 2012 for $1 million, but it has remained undeveloped ever since.
However, city staff are now recommending that a new, two apartment building development proceed on the two-acre site through a partnership with privately-owned CJM Development (Caraco) and the non-profit Kingston Frontenac Housing Corp. (KFHC).
Under the deal, the city will sell 1.3 acres to CJM for $925,000 and transfer the remaining 0.7 acres to KFHC, which is valued at $500,000. In addition, CJM will pay the estimated $175,000 cost to demolish the existing convent building.
“The CJM portion of the property would consist of a six storey maximum structure with approximately 120 residential units while the KFHC portion of the property would consist of a four storey building with approximately 40 units,” according to a staff report to council Feb. 5.
The proposal to build a total of 160 residential apartment units is much lower than the 215 units originally planned for the property. However, the original two apartment deal involving CJM and Town Homes Kingston, another non-profit housing organization, was abandoned after Town Homes ran into financial difficulties to proceed with its portion of the development. The city is currently overseeing a strategy to merge Town Homes and KFHC into Kingston’s single-largest affordable housing provider.
READ MORE: Town Homes Kingston financial troubles
CJM’s apartment building will have a mix of two bedroom, one bedroom, studio and ground level townhouse units, all at market rents. The affordable units — rents that are estimated at 80 per cent of full market value — will be located in the KFHC building with at least half of the 40 units earmarked as “permanently affordable,” according to staff.
Among the other terms of the deal that’s going to city council for final approval:
- CJM will start the land use planning application process and will include the KFHC site as part of the application
- CJM will proceed with the demolition of the existing building in 2019 at its own cost
- CJM will start construction of its building as soon as it receives all planning and building permit approvals, subject to any appeals
- CJM will contribute $50,000 to the city toward the cost of a publicly accessible new play structure on the KFHC site
- CJM will forgive costs owed by Town Homes Kingston for the planning, design and technical studies that were undertaken by CJM for the two 9-storey buildings that are no longer proceeding (estimated at $50,000 to $100,000)
City staff held a meeting with neighbourhood residents in January to discuss this proposal.
“Overall, residents were supportive of the new proposal and indicated an interest to be more involved in the planning process for this development as most questions were related to parking and the construction process.”
Both apartments are to be constructed along Wright Crescent just down the street from the Kingston YMCA.
Staff also recommended that most of the money the city collected from the $925,000 sale to CJM be put into a special municipal fund to buy land for future affordable housing projects.
The Sisters of Notre Dame agreed to sell their 1960s-era low-rise nun’s residence to the city on the condition that affordable housing will be included in a future redevelopment.