Vancouver’s Molnar Group is planning a $40-million apartment and townhouse project in Nanaimo as it continues to roll out development plans around Vancouver Island.
“We are big believers in the Vancouver Island market. We came over there long before major developers were coming there like they are now,” said Dak Molnar, managing director of the Vancouver-based Molnar Group.
“We see a willingness to get projects done. We see the need for rental housing in all communities.”
Colliers International’s Mid-Island Multifamily Market spring 2017 report said: “The mid-Vancouver Island markets, and specifically Nanaimo, are attracting interest from REITSs [real estate investment trustS] and private equity groups for its emerging status as a growing and stable multi-family residential market.”
The region’s affordability — relative to Greater Victoria and the Lower Mainland — has contributed to an increase in population, subsequent development, and is forecast to continue for the next couple of years, Colliers said.
Molnar’s Ocean View, with about 150 to 165 units, would be built on the three-acre site of the Nanaimo’s former hospital, now demolished. Plans call for a strata development, with the possibility of a rental component, Molnar said.
A rezoning application will be submitted to city hall next month, he said.
Molnar said the company bought the site, on an elevated piece of land, eight months ago. “Two-thirds of the homes will have views, maybe even more. It looks all the way down toward Mill Bay and looks all the way past Gabriola [Island].”
He anticipates that the strata units “will get scooped up real quick.”
It’s too soon to say what prices will be, Molnar said.
Along with a row of townhouses facing Machleary Street, three four-storey strata apartment buildings are proposed.
Ocean View amenities are to include a clubhouse, large gym, and an outdoor area for barbecues.
Molnar expects a public hearing would be held in June or July. If all goes smoothly, construction would start late this year or early in 2019 and be completed 18 months after that.
So far, the company has built 400 rental units in Nanaimo. Ocean View will push that figure past 500 homes. “We are always looking for new sites,” Molnar said.
This is the latest proposal from investors backing mid-Island real estate developments. The region’s housing market is strong and the supply of available properties is tight.
The company likes Vancouver Island “because there is real growth there,” Molar said. “We follow demographics to jurisdictions where we want to do business because we don’t go to places that aren’t growing.”
The family-owned Molnar Group builds strata and rental homes, and commercial projects.
When it comes to rental development: “It is filling a community need. It is filling a void in the market,” Molnar said. “The rental market in B.C. is as tight as it has ever been.”
Molnar Group has also built rental projects in Langford and is constructing a 166-unit rental project at Goldstream Avenue and Leigh Road.