Developer of new tower on Johnson plans second partnership with B.C. Housing

As residents prepare to move into its first Victoria condominium tower geared specifically to middle-income buyers, a Vancouver-based developer is already planning a second one.

Chard Developments recently finished construction of the 20-storey tower on Johnson Street in partnership with B.C. Housing and is launching sales next month for a second, similar project.

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The 135 one- and two-bedroom condominium units in Chard’s first project, Vivid at the Yates, were sold for an average of 12 per cent below market value — from about $275,000 to $550,000.

The province provided a low-interest construction financing loan of about $52.9 million to Chard, allowing the developer to sell the units for below market value.

Buyers had to be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who had lived in B.C. for a year before the sale. They could not own property anywhere else in the world, and had to agree to live in the property for two years before selling, except in extenuating circumstances.

The average household annual income among buyers was slightly more than $60,000 per year.

New owners start moving into the tower this month.

The pilot project is an example of what can be done in partnership with the private sector to achieve affordable housing for middle-income British Columbians, said David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing.

“The opening of these new units is great news for the families that will benefit from this project and get a chance to own their own home, which they might not otherwise have had,” Eby said in a statement.

Byron Chard, the company’s chief executive and president, said this week the company is “proud to have provided homes to people who may not have otherwise been able to step into homeownership.”

The developer is launching sales next month for Haven, its second Victoria housing project geared toward middle-income buyers.

The company is again working with B.C. Housing, but under a different financial model, this time through the province’s Housing Hub.

The Haven will be built on the southwest corner of Fernwood along Johnson Street, just east of Cook Street, and will offer 104 homes in a six-storey building.

Units will range from 375-square-foot studios to 1,019-square-foot three-bedrooms.

Haven is being built under B.C. Housing’s affordable homeownership program (AHOP). Units are sold at fair market value, with the AHOP program providing buyers with a 10 per cent, interest-free, payment-free “mortgage” toward the purchase. The program essentially credits the purchaser with 10 per cent of their home’s value, Chard said.

When the AHOP mortgage is repaid, the homeowner must pay 10 per cent of the fair market value of the home at that time. That money will be invested in future affordable-housing projects within the community.

Once the 10 per cent mortgage is taken into account, buyers will pay from $283,500 to $634,500, depending on the type of unit.

More than half the units in Haven will be two- or three-bedrooms, Chard said. Amenities include a playground and courtyard area.

The province did not provide a low-interest construction loan, as it did with the Vivid project.

Haven buyers must be middle-income Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have lived in B.C. for a year and do not own property elsewhere.

Chard is hoping to see Haven completed by the fall of 2023.

The company is also building Nest, a 12-storey building at Cook and Yates streets. Its 108 condos will be sold at market rates. Haven will be Chard’s 11th residential building in Victoria.

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