PC Urban and Fiera JV on the Multires Development of Victoria | RENX
Urban PC, a Vancouver-based real estate development and investment company specializing in British Columbia and Alberta, is currently focused on the ever-growing demand for purpose-built residential rental units.
His latest project, in partnership with Fiera Real Estate CORE Fund, comprises 153 rental apartments in a five-story wood-frame building in Victoria with retail space, public plaza, children’s play area, rooftop landscaping and public art.
The project, at the corner of Gorge and Irma streets, replaces six older single-family homes in the Burnside Gorge neighborhood. Work should begin this fall with delivery scheduled for late 2023.
Brent Sawchyn, CEO of PC Urban Properties, said the development community and city governments have recognized the dramatic need to provide more forms of housing.
Critical need for new rental housing
âMarket housing – single family homes, condominiums – in our major cities across Canada has become almost out of reach for a lot of people,â he said. âAs the various levels of government in the early 1980s removed incentives for the development community to deliver rental apartments, it almost became a lost skill set and a lost art.
âSince the early 1980s, we really haven’t built enough rental housing and now we find ourselves in every major city in Canada with chronically low vacancy rates. . . in the case of Victoria, one percent or less.
Sawchyn said people continue to move to Canada from other countries. The old stock of the rental offer is between 50 and 60 years old and many buildings are well beyond their lifespan. Until recently, there just wasn’t a lot of new rental housing entering these markets.
âEven if the various authorities removed the barriers to the approval process, we will still struggle to keep pace with achieving a healthy vacancy rate to give people choices to help make it more affordable for people. here, âSawchyn said.
PC Urban currently has just over 1,000 rental apartments under construction in seven projects across British Columbia. There are two projects in the Victoria area, two projects in the Lower Mainland and three projects in Kelowna.
Low interest rates, a boon for builders
Sawchyn said it helps development whether interest rates are at or near their all-time lows.
âThe delivery of a rental property is more difficult than the delivery of a condo to the market and, frankly, it’s less lucrative in the end,â he explained. âWe’re building a rental housing project and when it’s done we have to do a self-assessment and pay the GST.
Condo buyers, who are often first-time home buyers, can also benefit from a variety of federal government policies to help them with their purchases.
âIn the rental building, you can’t see any of this. We pay the same development costs as a market condo, but when the project is complete we are subject to a cap on rental rate increases, âSawchyn said. âIt’s a little oddly absurd because everyone recognizes the need for rental housing. . . . No one caps our spending, if you follow me, but everyone caps our income.
âIt becomes a real challenge and this is where we need all levels of government to step up and help support this initiative so that we can create more housing.
Sawchyn said the purpose-built rental will become a key pillar for PC Urban going forward. In the past, the company has focused on the delivery of industrial real estate and certain office spaces.
âOur mission is to provide a variety of housing options across the province. As a business, we believe we have a social responsibility to provide rental housing and we have more to come, âhe said, adding that the business will focus on British Columbia due to future demand. expected on the market.
The new Victoria development
In the Victoria project, traffic calming measures will be implemented on Irma Street, as well as the addition of landscaping to improve the streetscape and connections to bicycle and pedestrian paths.
About half of the units will be two or three bedroom houses.
“In Victoria, three in five people rent their homes, so improving the rental supply provides more housing options and more housing for our residents,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement. âWe also welcome the addition of more rental units specifically designed to help us meet our housing goals. “
PC Urban said the new development, close to the city center, will provide new housing for middle-income people, with suitable space for a new neighborhood cafe among other retail offerings.
The development will feature a climate-friendly, low-impact design; apiaries to support sustainability; Modo carpooling vehicles, as well as free car subscriptions; and level 2 EV charging stations and electrical sustainability so that others can be added as needed.
“Fiera is pleased to join our partner in this exciting and high quality development in the underserved Victoria market,” said William Secnik, Senior Vice President and Fund Manager, in a statement.
âThis investment positively supports our ESG objectives and improves the portfolio’s diversification in Western Canada.