It has been revealed this week that 20 townhouses in the athletes’ village have been set aside as market housing to help pay for the multi-million-dollar neighbourhood development.
While the recently updated business plan for the athletes’ village has yet to be made public, Joe Redmond, president of the Whistler 2020 Development Corporation (WDC), said they hope to secure roughly $800,000 each for the market townhouses, generating $16 million for the project.
“Those townhouses are helping to subsidize the other properties,” he said.
“The plan called for somewhere around 10 per cent of the units to be market.
“All we’ve tried to do is balance the budget.”
While council always contemplated the possibility of selling 10 per cent market housing in the athletes’ village, this is the first time specific housing has been pinpointed for market sale.
“On behalf of council we’re still hopeful that the returns would minimize the amount of market housing but this is what the board is recommending at this time,” said Mayor Ken Melamed, speaking from Vancouver Wednesday.
“It’s still subject to a number of variable.
“We have a financial obligation to make sure it nets out.”
The 2006 business plan highlights the possibility of selling seven serviced lots at market value for a total of $3.5 million.
Those lots are still part of the updated business plan, said Eric Martin, chair of the WDC board, adding that selling market townhouses was always part of the picture. Now that the development is more defined, the board has been able to locate where that market housing may be.
“We’ve now been able to look at it and say ‘if we have to do market, where are we going to do it?’… This is basically it,” said Martin, speaking before Wednesday’s WDC board meeting.
That means roughly $20 million will be flowing into the WDC’s hands from market development, much needed cash to help pay for the $143 million residential development.
That overall budget has risen by $12 million in the past year and a half because the village program has grown in size. It now includes a 55-room hostel building, to be paid for by Hostelling International, and a $7 million, 55-room rental apartment building, to be paid for by the Whistler Housing Authority.
“Because our program is bigger… obviously there’s more costs with the program but there’s (also) more revenue attached, so the revenue is matching the costs,” said Martin.
The market townhouses will be next to a cluster of similar employee-restricted units in the village, which will be sold to Whistler employees at the half the price.
That, said the mayor, speaks to the quality of the product.
“What we’re suggesting is that the quality is such that it can be built for employees or built for market… I think that says a lot about the commitment to quality of product,” he said.
The mix will make the new neighbourhood more varied and vibrant, said Redmond.
He is encouraging all Whistlerites, not just those on the employee housing waitlist, to come out to an open house Saturday to learn more about the Olympic village turned legacy neighbourhood project — the biggest project the municipality has ever undertaken.
“I don’t think people yet have an idea of the magnitude of what’s being built up there,” said Redmond.
The housing units range in size from studio apartments to four-bedroom duplexes.
By far the bulk of the units will be offered as employee housing to those on the waitlist. They are expected to cost on average $230/square foot, or roughly $115,000 for a 500 square foot studio apartment to $460,000 for the largest 2,000 square foot unit.
While there is a wide variety to choose from, most of the units are in the 1,110 to 1,500 square foot range.
“We’ve tried to reflect what the waitlist has been asking for,” said Redmond.
The open house will include a large scale model of the neighbourhood plan, project renderings and floor plans.
“So it will give people a pretty good idea of what types of units will be available — the area, the size, what they’re going to look like on the outside and the types of materials we’re going to be using on the inside,” said Redmond.
The open house will take place on Saturday, March 8 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Whistler Secondary School.
The updated business plan is expected to be online at the WDC’s website, www.whistlerdevelopmentcorp.ca, by early next week.