Ontario Construction News staff writer
To ensure the sale of a public property is used for affordable housing, the City of St. Catharines approved a staff recommendation to allow the buyer to partner with Habitat for Humanity Niagara.
The city will sell the 3.8-acre site of the community, recreation and culture services administration building to Penn Terra Group Ltd. (PTGL) for $1.3 million, allowing the area to be developed with 43 per cent affordable housing, 14 per cent social housing and 43 per cent market rate housing.
PTGL has proposed building a nine-storey tower with 180 rental units and one, four-storey building with 32 two-bedroom townhomes. In addition, approximately 19,000 square feet of commercial space could be developed on the site, alongside three community gardens.
Council approved an amendment to the sale agreement Feb. 28, so that PTGL can partner with Habitat for Humanity Niagara to sell 32 townhomes at below market rates.
“Our decision to allocate lands to an extensive affordable, social and attainable housing development has generated one the most impressive projects in the city’s history,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik. “With Bethlehem Housing and Penn Terra announcing the inclusion of Habitat for Humanity Niagara within the project, it adds another positive dynamic to a truly transformative project that takes direct aim at Niagara’s housing crisis.”
PTGL has agreed to sell the 32 units to Habitat at an affordable price and Habitat will sell them at the same price to deserving families who may not otherwise be able to afford a home. Habitat will sell the homes through an equity share program with any profits generated off future sales of the townhomes split between the selling family and Habitat.
The city has also required that 60 of the rental units be rented at affordable rates for the next 40 years.
“This is an exciting opportunity that will make an impact on the affordable housing crisis in Niagara and allow families to achieve greater stability,” said Mark Carl Habitat Niagara’s CEO. “We look forward to collaborating with the city and Penn Terra as we work through the details of this project.”