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After years of negotiations, false-starts, petitions and ultimatums, a new $20 million development is coming to the former Holland College property on Granville Street in Summerside.
The land’s owner, Charlottetown-based APM Group, announced Monday that it and several partners are moving to develop 90 new residential units there, representing phase one of a multi-part development plan.
Phase one will include the construction of a new four-storey, 60-unit affordable housing complex, as well as 30 micro-apartments. Construction of the later is tentatively set to get started in February of 2021 while the former will start in May.
The four main partners on the project include APM, non-profit Kings Square Housing, the City of Summerside and Summerside-based development company Bayside Builders.
It has taken longer than anyone could have hoped, but all the pieces are in place now to move forward on this important housing project, said Tim Banks, a Summerside native and CEO of APM Group.
“We’ve got (a plan) in front of us now which I think will be pretty exciting, and we see another phase to that as well that will be even bigger and better,” said Banks.
News of the project is something many in the city have been waiting years to hear. The property is 16-acres in the middle of the city’s primary retail area and while there has been some development on the periphery of the lot over the past several years, the former school building itself has been empty for more than a decade and is considered an eye-sore to many in the community.
Banks said a number of factors have contributed over the years to keep the building from either being torn down or developed, including it containing more asbestos than originally thought. However, all the party’s involved now have put in a considered effort over the past couple of years to come up with a plan to move forward and he’s confident they have a special project that will benefit the city.
“I don’t want my legacy as a developer in the region, in my hometown, to be tagged with a building that just doesn’t get developed. So, I felt it was important to see it through,” said Banks.
Kings Square Group is a non-profit housing corporation based in Charlottetown but manages units across the Island, including existing clients in Summerside.
Bill Campbell, president of the organization, said his group was honoured to be asked to be a part of this development. It will own and manage the 60 unit the affordable housing building, working with its funding partners to get it built.
It will consist of 20 seniors units, 30 mixed family/single people units and 10 market rate units. There will be several accessible units as well.
“Our Island track record of bringing quality building stock to the market is something that we excel at and being responsive to the needs of Islanders is something that we work hard to achieve,” said Campbell.
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said he is pleased a deal could finally be struck and he is excited at the partnerships forged for the deal. The city is contributing $1.3 million to build municipal infrastructure to support the first phase of the project.
The development will help with the ongoing housing crisis in the community, bring construction jobs and help clean up an area that sorely needs it, said Stewart.
“With everybody working together we’ve finally got a package tied together and it’s going to be redeveloped,” said Stewart.
“Everybody wins on this one.”
However, only a portion of the existing school structure will be developed in phase one of the project. The remaining portion, which locals would know as the old Centennial Pool, is part of a later phase of the project, which Banks said would be addressed at a future announcement.
District 21 MLA Lynne Lund represents the area and she said she regularly fields calls from constituents concerned about the property and many more looking for housing.
This deal will help deal with both issues, she said.
“We hear from people all the time who need appropriate housing and a lot of time that means affordable housing. So, having 60 new units in an area that is close to shopping, and close to the hospital, is exactly what we need.”