This artist’s rendering shows the proposed Cortile Verde rental project that broke ground Friday in Sidney (Empresa Properties/Submitted)

This artist’s rendering shows the proposed Cortile Verde rental project that broke ground Friday in Sidney (Empresa Properties/Submitted)

New rental project in Sidney breaks ground amidst pandemic uncertainty

Developer predicts rental project to serve under-served segment

A Victoria-based developer sees Sidney’s rental market as under-served.

“We are quite optimistic,” said Karl Robertson, president of Empresa Properties crews broke ground on the Cortile Verde development, a 30-unit rental building in the 9700-block of Third Street. “We have had lots of great feedback from the community in terms of being a purpose-built rental in the area. I don’t know of any other purpose-built rental under construction up in that area. You see a lot down in Victoria, but the Peninsula, I would say, is quite under-served.”

Current plans call for construction to finish in August 2021.

Robertson said the project aims at the mid-to-upper-end market. “A lot of the finishings that we are using are higher end,” he said. “So we are trying to capture both people who are going to be interested in renting in the project, but also those are looking at the condo market and might not be quite there.”

Overall, the project represents a $15-million investment, which Robertson had said earlier would bring “much needed rental supply, while simulating greater vibrancy in the neighbourhood.”

The project joins a number of construction projects underway in downtown Sidney, but large stands apart by virtue of aiming at renter rather than buyers.

RELATED: New report finds many Sidney residents struggle with housing affordability

“We really saw an opportunity to pursue a rental project here in Sidney, once we got underway with the planning process,” said Robertson. “There are quite a few condos that are coming into the market, but really the rental market seems to be quite under-served out in Sidney. So we thought that going for a high quality rental product that is right in the downtown core is going to be appealing to a wide range of interesting renters.”

The project also appears against the backdrop of concerns about housing affordability.

A report released in early November 2019 found many of Sidney’s 11,130 residents living across 5,606 households find housing unaffordable, while raising questions about past and current housing policies. This last point appears especially stark in comments from Sidney staff, which say that the “majority of housing being built [in Sidney] is directed at wealthier households.”

Robertson said the project features a mix of pricing.

“Lots of our units are smaller to try to get some of those entry level prices in, but we are about $3 per square foot on average for our units there,” he said. Translated, this figure means that one-bedrooms start around $1,500 per month with $2,800 per month for three bedrooms. Looking at the larger economic picture, economists have predicted a protracted downturn thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. But Robertson strikes an optimistic note.

“If anything, that may actually be a silver lining for our project in the sense that people who might be a little bit tight financially would look at a higher end rent product,” he said.


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