Check out what others are saying about VIVE and our developments.

Seven-storey building proposed near Auditorium in Kitchener

(updated August 2020)
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Former Marsale Manor proposed as affordable housing project
Oct 21, 2017
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

Vive Development Corporation’s Stephen Litt talks about how green building means recycling
Oct 16, 2017
Consider Stephen Litt the ultimate recycler.

The University of Waterloo engineering grad, who founded Revel Development while he was still in school and has since gone on to be the director of operations of Vive Development Corporation, has always had an interesting philosophy when it comes to repurposing old housing stock and refurbishing it for the market.

“I believe in renovating, not detonating,” said Litt, who came before Waterloo council recently for a zone change application for a building at 50 University Ave. E.

The building was once built and owned by Wilfrid Laurier University as a student residence, but was eventually bought by Vive Development Corporation and leased back to the school to provide student accommodation.

But with a surplus of student housing in the local market, the site itself may become an unique opportunity to reconvert the existing six-storey apartment to type of one bedroom units that will bring back some rental affordability and availability to the local housing market.

“There’s a lot of overhang in the student housing market right now,” said Litt. “The housing is built right by the campus so it makes it less desirable for students to rent places further away from school.

“What’s going to happen to those buildings?”

It’s exactly the type of project that fits in with Litt’s vision for design and problem solving that grew out his studies as a systems design engineer at UW.

And it isn’t the first time he’s done it. He began his development career by turning a sidesplit single family house in Waterloo into a technology incubator on Batavia Place.

More recently, when an absentee landlord let his building at 154 Erb St. E. go to pot, the city issued a closure order in February 2016. Vive Development Corporation came to the rescue and the restored the project and called it 154 Uptown in what Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky touted as a model of revitalization in the community.

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Vive Development’s agreement to lease back 50 University Ave. E. will also be up soon, and it’s their intention to turn the development from the existing model that features three to four bedrooms and cut the number of bedrooms from 161 bedrooms to 108 bedrooms.

“Our goal is to turn a lot of three and four-bedroom apartment units into one-bedroom units,” said Pierre Chauvin of MHBC Planning, which is the consultant on the project. “The total occupancy load will be reduced with this application.”

Coun. Whaley described the existing structure as the epitome of student warehousing and said there is an opportunity to apply some of the city’s new design standards to the project.

Chauvin said what is driving the changes is housing affordability, and the redeveloped building will have market rates and will provide a better mix of housing stock in the area.

“This utilizes and maximizes existing infrastructure and is an efficient use of land and is also consistent with providing intensification in a built-up area,” he said.

With vacancy rates still historically low around the region, it doesn’t help the housing market to demolish a building like this and take years to rebuild it to get it to the optimal state. It also doesn’t make financial sense, when the opportunity exists to do a planned renovation that will be highly desirable and up-to-date rental units back on the market like they at 154 Erb St. E.

The worry is that the housing mix in Waterloo could price people out of the city with the cost of homes, and this project gives people choice in staying in the community if they choose to downsize and relocate.

Litt, who grew up in the community and is a big believer in its future, said they’re working to get that housing mix right with some of the projects Vive Development has taken on.

Especially with projects like the Ion coming on line, and the increased transportation options available in the city, intensification will be the future of Waterloo and it makes projects like the ones they’ve undertaken even more important.

“This is the ultimate in green building,” said Litt. “We’re recycling existing structures and repurposing them for the future, keeping all the waste and materials out of the local landfill. We do more for the environment when we renovate existing buildings than tearing them down and starting all over again.”

The zone change for 50 University Ave. E. still needs approval from council, and work wouldn’t start at the earliest until next year.

Oct 16, 2017 by Bob Vrbanac Waterloo Chronicle

Modern condo could replace derelict site in Kitchener
Sep 11, 2017
KITCHENER — A developer wants to put up a six-storey metal and concrete residential building across from Victoria Park on a site that has sat vacant or derelict for a number of years.

The developer, Vive Development Corp., is proposing a six-storey building for the site at 51 David St. , directly across from Victoria Park, opposite the public washrooms and the Jubilee Drive parking lot.

The building would be stepped back further from the street on the fourth, fifth and sixth storeys, and would have 10 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units and 24 underground parking spots.

“We are unsure of whether the building will be rental or condo tenure,” said developer Stephen Litt in an email. “At this point we are focused on the design of a world-class building in Kitchener’s crown jewel of Victoria Park.”

The building would be quite modern, made of concrete, steel and glass, with charcoal and grey colours. The heritage impact study carried out by the developer’s consultant determined the modern style won’t affect the heritage character of the neighbourhood.

“There’s so many contemporary buildings there, I think there’s less of a need to include more natural materials” such as wood and brick, Vanessa Hicks, a heritage planner with MHBC, told the city’s heritage committee this week. On one side of the proposed development is a four-storey multi-residential building in a more traditional red-brick style, while on the other there is a 14-storey concrete highrise.

The heritage committee didn’t raise any major issues or concerns with the design, although a couple of members appeared skeptical.

“To me it looks like a large brick in the middle of a parking lot,” said Steve Strohack, adding that he thought the design was attractive.

Kim Huxted questioned the modern look of the building. “It’s beautiful, but it’s a very different design,” Huxted said. “It doesn’t complement the building to the left of it as well as it could, or the other houses on David Street.” She pointed out that another nearby development, Barra on Queen, used red brick in its design in an effort to blend in with the traditional brick homes in the area.

But Coun. Bil Ioannidis said he thought heritage districts can have a mix of modern and old, so long as the designs are attractive. “I know some other contemporary buildings were approved on Ahrens. I think it’s the wave of the future and I think it’s the way cities are being built today within heritage districts.”

The site has been vacant since July 2014, when two derelict homes were demolished. The homes had been notorious eyesores and crack houses for years, then enjoyed a brief moment of fame in May 2014, when one house was painted completely white, the other completely black as a temporary art installation in a downtown art festival. , Twitter: @ThompsonRecord

Apartments planned for former Breithaupt mansion site in Kitchener
Apr 06, 2017
KITCHENER — A downtown developer has plans to build a 112-unit apartment complex on vacant land that was once the site of W.H. Breithaupt’s mansion.

Vive Development Corp. is proposing to build a six-storey, 94-unit apartment building on land fronting Victoria Street North, and a 2 ½-storey 18-unit building on the site of the former mansion at 64 Margaret Ave.

The smaller building along Margaret Avenue would be built in a style reminiscent of the mansion that once stood there, said Vanessa Hicks, a heritage planner hired by Vive. The stucco and limestone building would be designed to look like a large home from the street and would have a roofline and tall, eight-paned windows reminiscent of those on the original Breithaupt mansion, which was demolished in 2003.

Hicks is also recommending the developer put up a plaque explaining the history of the site and the reasons the building is built in that architectural style.

“Someone walking by might easily recognize that building as an interpretation of what the original house would have looked like,” she said in a presentation this week to Kitchener’s heritage committee.

The larger building on Victoria is a more modern design. Four homes, from 217 to 229 Victoria St. N., will be demolished to make way for the six-storey building.

The development doesn’t require council approval or zoning changes, though it needs a minor variance. If all planning approvals go ahead, Vive hopes to start construction this fall or next spring, with occupancy about a year after construction starts, said Stephen Litt of Vive.

Vive has been involved in other rental developments, including the renovation of 48 Weber St. W. in Kitchener and 154 Erb St. E. in Waterloo. But this $30-million development is bigger than those projects, which were each around 40 units.

Vive decided to go with a design similar to the former mansion for the Margaret Avenue development, which, unlike the portion of the development along Victoria, is within the Civic Centre heritage district.

Margaret Avenue acts as a sort of gateway into the heritage district, Litt said. “There are a number of heritage properties nearby. … This is just more contextually appropriate, given the beautiful homes and the eclectic architecture.”

“I think it’s a good design,” said Coun. Paul Singh, who sits on the heritage committee. “It does set a good standard for the other development that will take place in the neighbourhood.”

The Margaret Avenue site has a rich history, though there is little trace of that now. The mansion was built by prominent industrialist and engineer W.H. Breithaupt, who lived there until he died in 1944.

Breithaupt, an engineer, was involved in his family’s business concerns, such as the Berlin and Waterloo Railway and the Berlin Gas Works. He was active in civic life, and was the first chair of the city’s planning commission and first president of the Waterloo Historical Society. He helped secure Carnegie Foundation funds for the city’s library and was instrumental in getting the Pioneers’ Memorial Tower built.

The Vive development is just up the street from a stretch of vacant land at 30 Margaret Ave. that has sat empty since 1988, when a number of stately homes, including two mansions built by the Kaufman family, were demolished. A plan to build two six-storey condominiums was advanced in 2013, but has since been put on hold. , Twitter: @ThompsonRecord

Rundown Waterloo apartment building lovingly restored
Dec 28, 2016
WATERLOO — The apartment interiors now have gleaming fixtures and hardwood floors that shine after a restoration that cost well over $1 million.

This building at 154 Erb St. E. in Waterloo used to be owned by Terry Good, who also owned several other rundown rental properties that attracted drug dealers, addicts, squatters, vandals, vagrants and sex-trade workers.

Where others see property standards violations and police cars, a young engineer sees opportunities. Stephen Litt is the project manager who watched over the restoration of 54 Erb St. E. This is the second time Litt supervised the restoration of an apartment building that used to be owned by Good.

“The bones of the building are good,” Litt said. “A great location in Uptown Waterloo, walking distance to all the amenities.”

This apartment building is a 10-minute walk to King Street North, one of the main reasons Litt wanted to restore it. There are 39 units in the building now after some of the large, two-floor, four-bedroom apartments were reconfigured. The majority are now two-bedroom units.

“I am a big proponent of adding suites within existing building envelopes,’ Litt said. “I think that is an excellent place to sustainably grow density in our cores.”

All of the bathrooms and kitchens were demolished down to the studs in the walls. The restoration includes new windows and new mechanical systems. A new roof was installed. Hardwood floors, marble countertops and shiny fixtures are now standard in each unit.

“A very arduous process,” Litt said of the work that took six months to complete.

New tenants started moving in Dec. 1. Demand for nicely finished rental units in and around downtown cores remains strong, Litt said, and the entire building should be leased out by the end of March.

“The plan is not to sell it, the plan is to hold it for the very long term,” Litt said.

The three-storey walk-up has an interior courtyard that has two old oak trees and new sod.

“People don’t build buildings like this anymore,” Litt said of the courtyard. “It is something that I think is really cool, sort of private courtyard space for the tenants.”

Litt also supervised the restoration of 48 Weber St. W., another apartment building that used to be owned by Good. It too was a haven for squatters and drug dealers before $1.3 million was spent on the restoration of the 40-unit building. , Twitter: @PenderRecord

Kitchener’s 48 Weber St. complex ready to turn over a new leaf
Nov 23, 2015
The notorious apartment on 48 Weber St., is in the midst of a significant overhaul, with the first units of the building slated to be ready for tenants by December.

In July, the heritage building was bought by a Toronto real estate developer after city employees found it was littered with graffiti and human feces. It was declared a fire hazard unfit for human habitation.

The 40-unit complex was shuttered and entirely gutted with new floors, walls, doors, windows, plumbing, electrical and a new roof. Some bricks have been cleaned up, repaired and replaced and new tenants in the first eight completed units are set to enter next week.

The building’s project manager Stephen Litt is working to revamped building, which has endured some “typical” construction delays due to custom fits needed for the old complex.

“The final result is completely worth the wait,” Litt said. “Given the scope of work here, I think we’re doing quite well,” he added.

“It’s still a construction war zone, without a doubt, but that’s kind of a fun thing,” he explained. “All the units have been tiled, all the kitchens are in … we’re into finishes now.”

The only things left to do are electrical, plumbing and trim work, Litt said. He added the cachet of keeping a lot of original features such as crown mouldings and big baseboards should be a selling point for new tenants.

“The suites are actually quite big,” Litt said. “The location’s fantastic.”

Alluring architecture
Walking through a typical unit, it’s clear there has been plenty of attention to detail.

“Each unit has a natural gas fireplace … all the bedrooms are actually quite large … finished incredibly well.”

Built in 1930, the complex is considered a heritage building and had to be preserved, according to city policy.

“Part of what I’m doing right now is preaching how cool this building actually is,” Litt explained. “It’s very unique, architecturally.”

The project manager said getting rid of some overgrown trees outside of the complex and adding some fresh paint really allowed passersby to notice how elegant and unique the complex really is.

New lights are coming to the courtyard aimed at creating a cool and bright space for residents. And finally, crews worked closely with police who conducted a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) audit to improve security, which Litt said adds value.

“The building really speaks for itself.”

“Vive Development Corporation came to the rescue and the restored the project and called it 154 Uptown in what Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky touted as a model of revitalization in the community.”