Colwood developer offers 'new kind of mortgage'

Developers behind the massive Capital City Centre project in Colwood want to provide some of the most affordable new homes in the region by offering their own mortgage program designed to help first-time home buyers.

League Financial Partners on Friday unveiled a show suite for the $1-billion mixed-use development under construction at the old Colwood Corners site, near Gold stream Avenue.

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The size of the project is unparalleled on the Island. It involves 12 residential high-rise towers, four office towers, four mid-rise residential buildings, two storey town homes, multistorey office buildings and a public plaza that will feature restaurants and retail space.

To make buying a home easier, League Financial CEO Adam Gant announced the company's equity mortgage program which, he said, will offer customers a larger down payment in order to avoid insurance premiums and reduce their debt.

"We've created a whole new kind of mortgage," Gant said.

"The equity mortgage is the next revolution in homepurchase financing."

Homebuyers will need 10 per cent of the purchasing price, but League Financial will then loan them an additional 10 to 25 per cent in order to qualify for a 65 to 80 per cent conventional mortgage.

The mortgage program is designed to allow buyers to avoid mortgage insurance premiums from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and qualifies them for a 30-year amortization period.

New mortgage rules in Canada, announced in June, reduced the amortization period from 30 to 25 years for government-insured mortgages.

Gant said League's equity mortgage results in monthly payments up to 40 per cent lower than a CMHC-insured 25-year mortgage because no payment of interest or principle is required.

"Equity mortgage covers the majority of the downpayment, but ... there is no monthly payment for it," he said. "Relying solely on debt is old fashioned and just plain dangerous."

The new mortgage program comes as the company prepares to put homes for the first phase of the Capital City Centre project on the market as early as late September.

Phase one construction is well underway and will be built out over the next five years at an estimated value of about $250 million.

The first portion of the phase includes a new 35,000-square-foot London Drugs building topped with four storeys of residential properties. It will also include a seven-storey office building and three additional retail buildings.

Condos range from 588 to 1,069 square feet and prices start at about $240,000.

League then plans to complete a 27-storey residential tower - the tallest on the Island - by 2014. The high-rise will include 208 condos ranging from 675 to 1,600 square feet, with prices starting at $270,000.

The final portion of phase one will be a second 27-storey residential tower, a multi-storey residential mid-rise building above a 33,000-square-foot grocery store and additional retail and office buildings.

Colwood councillors were on hand for the unveiling Friday, celebrating the project they say will transform their community as it is built out over the next 20 years.

"It's a real kind of revitalization of the downtown, not just for this site, but for other areas as well," Coun. Judith Cullington said.

Colwood is changing quickly, the politicians said.

A testament to that is also the recent sale of the Royal Bay Lands site. The 170-hectare property could be another mixed-use design with up to 2,800 homes.

"Colwood is very much at a transition point. We're in the process of changing from a small bedroom community to a full house," Cullington said. "People can live here, [play] here and work here."

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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