Beaver Barracks: dialing for dollar$

The Beaver Barracks project has some elderly neighbours. This adds interest to the views, and avoids that “all built at once” project look.

The bottom part of the balcony railing is frosted, giving the inside of the units more privacy, and concealing from streetview the junk that always accumulates on balconies.

The whole project is heated by geothermal energy. Hundreds of wells were drilled under the site. A closed-loop system transfers heat up from the ground and circulates it to the units. In the summer time, it pulls heat out of the apartments and puts it back into the ground. The units are not exactly air conditioned, more like “heat wave tempered” to 25 degrees.

So just what did the first two buildings on this site cost? Show me the money:

The first two buildings (one facing Argyle, one facing Metcalfe) cost $40.25 million dollars. Of that 28.5 million was to build the buildings; 5.42 million for the land; and 6.3 million for soft costs (architects, engineers, financing). I think it really interesting to see the soft costs and land costs: getting approvals and other overheads are expensive. Modular building techniques, etc are not going to solve our housing cost problem when so much of the cost is land and overhead. And land will only get proportionately more expensive given the City’s smart growth policy is to constrain available development land, forcing up its price, reducing affordability.

So, where did CCOC get the money? They took a 21 million dollar mortgage. The City gave them 3.5 million dollars in grants, plus it gave them $7 million in form of the land and waived development charges, etc. These contributions are especially valuable as there is no interest or carrying charges to pay on freebies. They also got a federal grant of 7.5 million, and ‘other’ grants of $600,000. In sum, the cost is split $21 million mortgage and $18.6 million in grants.

Many rents in the buildings are below market value. This is made possible by the taxpayer subsidy in that 47% of the project costs is covered by grants. (Note that this is for the two buildings already up; there is another apartment tower and two blocks of townhouses yet to be built, presumably with similar grant sums.)

I also note that CCOC put in cash equity for a half million dollars.

In addition to the capital cost subsidies, the Province of Ontario will pay the interest and principal on $4.6 million dollars of the mortgage, ie about 22% of the mortgage will be paid from general tax revenue ($391,000 per year).

CCOC is a non-profit housing provider. The name is a hold-over from the heady days of the late 60s and early 70s when “profit” was held to be a dirty word, as was “ka-pittal-ists”. The numbers above indicate that the primary reason for the lower cost housing units is Federal, Provincial, and Municipal subsidies, not foregone profit.

In return for the public subsidies, CCOC operates a mixed development, with market and below-market priced units and a selected tenant mix. One fifth of the units are reserved for tenants that also receive other public support from Options Bytown, Ottawa Salus, and The In Community.

CCOC and CMHC calculate the ‘market rent’ for units in Centretown. At the Beaver Barracks, they then rent 40% of the units at the market rent rate.

Another 40% are  rent geared to income, where tenants pay 30% of their gross income for rent. That can be a very deep subsidy (to bring the rent to below 70% of the market price)  per tenant.  

The remaining 20% of the units are rented at 70% of the market rent … it is necessary to fall into certain income brackets to qualify for these units.

For example, a studio unit rents at market rate for $706/month; the ones rented at below market rate are$489 for those earning between $19 and 29,000 a year (ie $10-14/per hour based on a full time job).

A two bedroom unit is $1280 at market rent; $896 for those earning between $35 and 53,000 a year.

Some units are still available: contact CCOC directly.

3 thoughts on “Beaver Barracks: dialing for dollar$

  1. The last image here, the artists’s conception, looks very attractive. I especially like the central courtyard idea. Hopefully, reality will closely approximate the vision presented here. The rents will be welcome for many.

  2. You know what – if having the CCOC run it and get it past the “government is evil” brigade, then I am all for the idea. I suppose. I just wish the government is evil group would fess up to their own use of government roads

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