Old East housing project clears another hurdle – The London Free Press
A landmark affordable housing project for Old East Village is one step closer to reality.
City council’s planning committee this week approved the removal of a holding provision at 728-744 Dundas St., clearing the way for Indwell, a Hamilton-based Christian agency, to build a three-storey residential-commercial building on the site.
Indwell is working with London’s Housing Development Corp. (HDC) for funding to develop affordable housing units on the upper floors.
The 0.4-hectare site at Dundas and English streets has been an empty lot for almost a decade.
It was once the site of the Embassy Hotel which was shut down in 2009. Two months later, the building was heavily damaged by a fire investigators deemed suspicious.
The hotel was demolished and plans to build an eight-storey condo project on the site fell apart in 2011.
Earlier this year Tricar Group, a London developer, bought the site on behalf of Indwell and plans to turn it over when the project is ready to proceed.
Graham Cubitt, project director for Indwell, said design work is proceeding and the next step is to secure funding from HDC.
“We are a pre-qualified bidder so the next time we have funding available, we will be in the queue.”
Indwell, founded in 1970, has a history of providing supported and independent affordable housing in Hamilton, Simcoe and Woodstock.
Their largest project in the area has been the refit of the former Harvey Woods textile plant in Woodstock to create 54 apartment units, followed by another 26 units in a newly constructed expansion.
Indwell supplies support services as well as housing and finances its projects with a combination of donations, government grants and financing.
Steve Giustizia, head of the HDC, said Indwell is an experienced agency and their proposal for the former Embassy site provides an important boost for the Old East neighbourhood.
“This is a very strong group in developing affordable housing, but they just need to go through the process.”
HDC offers loans and grants to residential housing developers to reduce the cost of construction by up to 50 per cent. In return, the developer must rent some or all completed rental units at below-market rates.
He said the HDC will be making an announcement in October about the next batch of affordable housing projects that will be funded.