News » Whistler

cheakamus north

Nearly 1,100 bed units in 240 townhouses on 18 acres south of Millar’s Pond — all affordable housing. That’s the proposal by local builder Serge Coté and his partner Fred Ligeti, one of the first that will be received by the municipality under its call for affordable housing proposals. "The goal here is to address the business problem, because that’s what (lack of) employee housing has become," says Coté. "I’ve lost three good guys for my own company because of the housing issue." Coté and Ligeti are proposing a low-density townhouse development spread over the 18 acres, called Cheakamus North. Their company, Glacier Creek Development Corp., has an option to purchase the land for $750,000, a price low enough that it makes the land cost almost inconsequential to the final sale price of the units. But infrastructure costs can be even greater than land prices, Coté says, so if the project is given preliminary approval by council the company will do a detailed land survey this fall so they can mold the 20 buildings and the roads to the slopes with minimum blasting or terrain alteration. "We looked at this from the end result and worked backwards," Coté says. "Business has to solve the housing problem and this project has to fly on its own merits." The end result, according to preliminary calculations, are townhouses that could be built for about $88 per square foot. They would sell for between $133 and $163 per square foot, or about $160,000 for a three-bedroom unit and about $90,000 for a one-bedroom unit. Glacier Creek Development Corp. is proposing to sell half of the units to individuals, 25 per cent to local businesses and keep the remaining 25 per cent in a rental pool. "We’re waiting for the proposal call now. The municipality knows of the project but we haven’t formally entered the re-zoning process," Coté says. If the project is processed over the winter and the developers are able to get into the ground early in the spring, Coté feels half of Cheakamus North could be ready by next winter. However, a number of issues have to be worked out in greater detail. Access to the property is one such detail. A bridge across the creek at the south end of Millar’s Pond would cost at least $500,000, Coté says. However, he is also looking at a new highway access from south of the property and a right in, right out access in about the middle of the property. The highway access south of the 18 acres would run through Crown land that Whistler Mountain has an option on and is considering for future lift access to the mountain. As well as access issues, Coté is also considering incorporating a co-op general store and perhaps a day-care facility in the development. The proposed buildings, designed by the firm of Rositch Hemphill and Associates, are above standard in architectural design and engineering but would be more modestly finished inside, Coté says.