Former Marsale Manor proposed as affordable housing project

Two years after Marsdale Manor closed, a proposal has come forward that would see the former retirement residence turned into an affordable housing project.

The initiative comes from Kitchener-based Vive Developments, which bought the Linwood Avenue property back in February and has been working to “reimagine” the site since.

“It’s a great location, in an established neighbourhood,” said company president Stephen Litt, noting there’s no plan to expand or make changes to the building exterior beyond some facade improvements, landscaping enhancements and new patio areas. “We hope it’s a welcome addition in the neighbourhood.”

The project, which requires official plan and zoning amendments before it could move forward, would see the creation of 36 units, rented out at 80 per cent or less of their market value. There would be 23 one-bedroom units, eight studio apartments and five two-bedroom units.

“There’s sort of a natural layout, a commonality between apartments and retirement homes — obviously apartment accommodations have to be a bit larger,” Litt said. “I’m hearing from the community that we need a lot of compact, one-bedrooms for seniors. I suspect that is the community that we’ll target it to.”

When it was operating, Marsdale Manor provided 64 beds, including 52 funded by the Region of Waterloo for transitional housing.

Regional funding is again being sought, this time for affordable housing.

“We made our application earlier this year and there’s a few clarity points and a few revisions to be made to it,” Litt explained. “Hopefully we are near the top of the pile for the next allocation of funds.

“Fortunately, our federal government has set aside a significant amount of resources for affordable housing, which we need as a country dramatically.”

The next allocation of affordable housing funds is expected early next year, Litt said. A long-term commitment to affordable housing rental rates is among the requirements.

Litt is optimistic this project will receive funding.

“There’s not a lot of developers that build rental housing or renovate. Essentially, there’s people that build rental housing to sell it to long-term holders. We like to buy it and renovate and hold or build, lease up and hold,” he said. “You have to have a longer-term vision than most do in the development community.”

Cambridge is “in desperate need” of affordable housing units, said Coun. Pam Wolf, chair of council’s affordable housing committee, during a recent public meeting on the proposal.

“I think this could be an excellent project and I look forward to seeing the results,” he said.

During the public meeting, a couple of nearby residents raised concerns about the number of proposed parking spaces, expressing worry anyone who doesn’t want to pay for a parking space as part of their lease will leave their vehicle on the street.

The project is proposed to have 32 parking space, including four visitor spots.

Oct 21, 2017 by Richard Vivian Cambridge Times