Tuesday evening (April 3rd) I attended an open house at the Rosewood Park Alliance Church, the former St. Patrick’s Elementary school and the site of a proposed new housing development (City and leader post). THis project is notable because the developer, Newrock Developments, is partnering with Classic Communities to provide mortgage assistance to buyers as was done with the Eastgate Villas development last year.
There will be 78 town-house style units in three different sizes, two to three bedrooms, all more than 1000 sqft. The cost is estimated between $240 000 and $260 000, but Classic Communities provides money towards the mortgage down-payment, providing assistance in home ownership.
To be clear this not a rental development. The units are for purchase although the developers would say they are at the affordable end of the market and with mortgage assistance create a way into ownership. This argument was very persuasive with City Council; they loved the Eastgate proposal’s mix of greater affordability leading to ownership as opposed to rental.
Arriving at the meeting, held at a former elementary school converted into a church, I found the grounds and building in less than ideal condition. The place looked abandoned. Glass over grown, weedy, with pieces of siding laying on the lawn.
It is hard to argue that housing wouldn’t be a better use here. This site is only a block away from Martin Collegiate so the extra population could help in retaining that school and others in Rosemont Neighbourhood. The density would be about 2.5 times the surrounding area, which is largely made of single detached hosing with a few low-rise apartments to the North East.
This configuration of buildings is mirrored in the development plan with two-story units built to Grey Street in order to match with the houses across the street. Larger three-story buildings are in the interior in order not to overwhelm the mostly single story residential streetscape.
Speaking to city officials present at the open house, they hadn’t heard much opposition to the proposal. There were some comments about housing prices, both being driven up and down, along with concerns about traffic. Apparently many people came as potential purchasers to learn more about the development. The large poster boards along with half a dozen Newrock staffers, showing layouts and explaining the mortgage assistance program, gave the open house a home show feel.
The one hope I would have is that the developers retain the playground equipment use that is currently on site. Playground equipment is a precious commodity. We are lucky in Regina to have many open spaces and parks either on school or city property. Indeed Martin Collegiate just to the North provides ample open space. Playground equipment can be less frequent, especially once schools are closed. This is why retention of these resources is crucial: once they are gone, usually they are gone for good.
A second concern is keeping these open to the public. I have seen condo developments or town-house grouping with private facilities like pools, tennis courts and play equipment. It would be nice to see this amenity retained for everyone in the community.