Building given a second chance

By Tyler Clarke, Prince Albert Daily Herald October 18, 2013 - Practical action in the fight against homelessness capped off Prince Albert’s Homeless Action Week series of events on Friday.

With the city’s limited stock of affordable housing continually brought up as an issue during the week’s events, the Pineland Apartments’ second life is poised to help matters.
The century-old building was on its deathbed when Saskatoon-based Stewart Properties came to its rescue.

“Although we’re newcomers to Prince Albert, we’re not newcomers to affordable housing,” developer Tyler Stewart said.

“We’re not flipping this property,” he later clarified.” Our intention is to keep it for a long time, so we will recap our expenses. It won’t happen overnight -- it happens over a long time.”

Built in 1912, the 23-unit apartment building at 235 10th St. E. has lived a long live in Prince Albert -- its most recent years plagued by limited upkeep and an increasingly “notorious” reputation, Stewart said.

This should change once the building re-opens, Stewart said, noting that while the building’s previous owners lived out of province, Stewart Properties is based in Saskatoon.

“We end up with, usually, excellent tenants who love and appreciate their place, and in turn that keeps our vacancies down and our problems out, which keeps the dollar down.”

During a renovation project launch on Friday, Stewart was joined by three levels of government -- the city represented by Coun. Rick Orr, the province by Prince Albert Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens and the federal government by Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback.

The government representatives’ inclusion in the ceremony was indicative of their support -- the two senior levels of government joining forces by contributing a combined total of about $600,000 toward the renovation project, on the promise that rent is kept at an affordable rate.

Stewart Properties is covering the balance of the more than $1 million building renovation project.

Affordable housing means people spending less than 30 per cent of their income on housing, Stewart said, noting that 26 per cent of Prince Albert households are above this threshold.

“These people are sacrificing food, medicine and clothing and quite often their well-being to keep a roof above their heads,” he said.

Commending Jurgens and Hoback for their governments’ respective contributions, Orr gave thanks on behalf of the city.

“A building like this means a lot not only to the neighbours but the neighbourhood, and the rejuvenation of the downtown core,” he said.

“I think everyone knows this building has a bad history in the community,” he noted, adding that by the time the building re-opens, Steward Properties will have made the building “a benefit to the community and a place where people will thrive and live safely.”

Tentatively, rent for the 23 one-bedroom units will be set at $600 per month, Stewart said.

Although the building’s exterior is done, its interior appeared gutted during Friday’s renovation announcement.

“We’re hoping to have it done by next month,” Stewart said as a couple members of the project’s construction crew laughed in the background.

Looking over at the crewmembers with a smirk, he added, "But, we know it’s going to be into the beginning part of next year.”

 

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