Highrises in city's core draw empty nesters
March 02, 2010
The Hamilton Spectator
It's big, bold and in the core.
And it's affordable. If you consider a $265,000 condominium unit affordable housing.
It's the Molinaro Group's $60-million highrise project on Maple Avenue, on the west edge of the city's downtown.
The planned 21-storey, 186-unit highrise began in November with occupancy planned for the spring of 2011.
Group president Vince Molinaro said the project, which will provide 50 units below the $265,000 threshold that Halton Region considers affordable housing for Burlington, is about 70 per cent sold. Some 25 units will be priced over $500,000.
"Twenty per cent of the building will be affordable according to the region's standard," Molinaro said of his fifth Burlington highrise.
When this is completed, Molinaro will have provided close to 1,000 highrise units in the downtown and the Burlington developer has plans for another project nearby.
Molinaro acknowledges his latest development met with some neighbourhood concerns over the height of the structure. Indeed, some neighbours went so far as to object because the highrise would block their view of Hamilton. But Molinaro said a stepped-back design helped satisfy some, if not all, of the objections.
"Did we make every single person happy with the building? No. But we thought this was a good compromise. We're happy to work with everyone."
He notes the project is one of five highrises in the Maple area.
The original proposal was for a 25-storey, 220-unit development. A public fountain component was added on Maple Avenue, as well.
Leo DeLoyde, Burlington's director of development and infrastructure, said Molinaro's housing projects have had a major impact on the character of the city's core.
"He has changed it forever. He is making the downtown a more liveable place," DeLoyde said, adding many empty nesters are moving to the core to take advantage of the amenities there.
DeLoyde said Burlington is one of the few Ontario municipalities with a downtown located on the waterfront and the city is trying to make the most of it. "We're trying to leverage the downtown and re-invent the downtown and link it in with the waterfront."
DeLoyde said the Molinaro project offers a nice blend of architecture with affordable housing.
While $265,000 might not seem like affordable housing, DeLoyde said it is in Burlington where rent for a one- or two-bedroom apartment can cost $1,000 to $1,200 per month.
"You have to look at it in terms of what your alternatives are," he said.