By Vivian Moreau
Whistler’s mayor says the likes of a 30-unit employee-restricted apartment building set to open next month in Function Junction may not be seen again for some time.
“It’s cheaper than anything else we have in our inventory and likely never to be repeated,” Ken Melamed said after touring The Lofts, a three-storey development at the end of Alpha Lake Road. The building features asymmetrical hallways with 10 spacious apartments per floor, many with spectacular north-facing views of wetlands and Whistler Mountain. The two-bedroom units, that will range in price from $167,997 to $250,000, are restricted for sale to local residents employed in Whistler. They were developed by Millar Creek Development in exchange for zoning considerations on adjacent properties.
Units that vary from 838 to 1,258 sq. ft. and feature nine-foot ceilings and underground parking should be available for occupancy by end of May, developer Don Wensley said. The units will be available for viewing April 12 and 14 to potential buyers who have been pre-approved by the Whistler Housing Authority.
The authority’s president said the units coming on stream will have a trickle down effect that will help to soften Whistler’s affordable housing problem.
“Purchasers will come from the rental market and open up those spaces for others,” Marla Zucht said.
Each fall thousands of seasonal workers flock to Whistler for work in the ski resort and are challenged with finding affordable housing. This winter wait lists normally cleared by end of January for Whistler-Blackcomb’s seven on-site dormitory-style buildings extended well into March, an indication of a particularly tough rental market.
Melamed said the next housing available for restricted sale to Whistler residents will be the 220-unit Rainbow project in Whistler’s north end, anticipated for completion by 2009. Construction costs for the athletes’ village housing complex, anticipated for sale after the 2010 Winter Games, is being budgeted in the $200-$250 per sq. ft. range, Melamed said, adding that Whistler’s housing crunch will ease once those two projects are complete.
“Until then we’re going to have to sit tight,” Melamed said. “We’re going to have to be a little bit more patient for those units.”