Housing society struggles with unit purchase
Delays could impact proposed purchase of affordable suites
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 06:00 am
The St. Albert Housing Society might be cutting things a little close if it wants to purchase more units at one of the city’s affordable housing developments.
The society approached council in October saying it wanted to purchase seven units at Big Lake Pointe on top of the 15 to which it already has title. In order to secure financing for the purchase, the society said it needed a comfort agreement from the city stating the city would step up financially if the society couldn’t make its payments. Council passed a motion in November to have a look at the society’s business plan and report back to council.
But the society has already missed one deadline – in mid-January – to submit information the city was looking for to complete a legal and financial review. Specifically, administration wants to see information on sources of funding, loan conditions and financial terms.
The deadline was Jan. 16, but housing society board chair David McGreer sent a letter to the city that day, saying it was unable to meet the city’s request. A second deadline of Feb. 4 has since been changed to Feb. 11.
“We let the city know that we would need more time to answer those questions,” McGreer said.
McGreer said he did not foresee anymore delays.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said the information caught him off guard.
“The housing society came with an urgent plea and really put (administration) under some pressure and they are saying, ‘we can’t meet our own urgent needs,’” Crouse said.
City staff need 45 days to review the society’s information once it is received, says the city’s administration. The purchase deadline is May 31, however that deadline would be extended if the units aren’t ready in time.
The cost of the seven additional units has been pegged at $1.1 million. A second option proposed by the society is that the city offer a direct loan with no or low interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
If the city can’t or won’t provide a loan, the comfort agreement would allow the society to get a loan with more favourable terms.
“They want a guarantee to get a better rate for their mortgage financing,” said Lory Scott, the city’s affordable housing liaison.
Once staff have reviewed the society’s information, a recommendation will be forwarded to council for a decision later in the spring.
Big Lake Pointe is a 118-unit apartment complex being built in North Ridge.