Port House Back on Track?

October 19, 2022
Port House Back on Track?

The developer of a proposed 84-unit apartment building in downtown Charlottetown anticipates that the city will finally sign a development agreement this week, allowing the project to get back on track.

Tim Banks, CEO of APM, announced the Port House project in February 2021. At that time, Banks said construction would begin in the Summer (2021), and would be ready for people to move in by January 2023. The building would be located in the parking lot of the Polyclinic.

But since announcing the project, changes to the city’s affordable housing incentive policy have put the development on hold. Banks blames the city’s former chief administrative officer for getting in the way by changing the policy, which offers reduced tax rates, as well as things like reduced parking requirements and bonus height allowances. 

The policy change has to do with how a project is defined as affordable. Before the change, a project had to meet either the province’s definition of affordable, or the definition set by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. After the policy was changed, a project had to meet both definitions, something Banks said wasn't feasible due to the province’s definition not taking into account things like the cost of land in the city and the added expense of meeting parking requirements.

Banks told me that the city has received a legal opinion that it must follow the policy as it was written at the time of the application. Banks anticipates that the pending development agreement will confirm the project is again eligible. 

The delay caused by this policy change has increased the overall cost of the project by an estimated $7.4M, bringing the total project cost to just under $30M. If the development agreement is signed this week, Banks said construction would begin in April 2023.

IRAC Appeal Dismissed

The project was also appealed to the Island Regulations and Appeals Commission by a local resident, but that appeal was dismissed last week. Appeals of this nature are not uncommon to the developer, and he said work typically progresses as he navigates his way through them. Although these appeals do not delay projects, they do increase overall costs due to the expense of defending the project at IRAC hearings. In the IRAC decision, the developer raised the question of costs. IRAC stated that legislation would need to be changed to give the commission authority to award costs on appeal. Banks said he has been asking for this change for years.

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