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OMB Settlement Leads to Design, Usage Changes at 470 Wilson





New renderings have appeared in Toronto developer Collecdev’s resubmission of their mixed-use proposal at 470 Wilson. Designed by gh3 architects, the project is a collection of 3 buildings comprised of office, condo, rental and retail uses. The building will bring 555 residential units to the Wilson and Faywood intersection—right next to Wilson Subway Station, Allen Road and the 401. The condo portion of the project lies in Buildings A and B which share a connected podium level, while Building C houses the rental component of the development.

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3The newly refined design by gh3 Architects, image courtesy of Collecdev

Originally proposed in December of 2016, the developer appealed the project to the OMB after community consultations and a lack of decision from City Council within the required time frame. A pre-hearing was scheduled for early 2018 after which a settlement decision was reached in August of this year. This lead to a number of changes in the unit mix and retail spaces, as well as the introduction of an office component. 

The OMB settlement reduced the number of units from 623 to 555. 394 of these units are condominiums, while 161 are for rental purposes. The developer is required to replace the units lost in the demolition of the two 4-storey rental apartment buildings currently on site. 103 of these rental units will be designated for affordable housing. 112 townhome units were initially proposed along the north face of the development, however these units have been removed entirely in the latest application.

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3The ground floor architectural plans of buildings A and B, image courtesy of Collecdev

During the negotiations that formed this resubmission, 1,184 square metres of office space were added in building B of the development. The on-site four storey office building will be demolished as well, so the provision of new office space will ensure that the area retains that mix of uses. The retail component, which is located in building C on the eastern-most portion of the site, has been greatly reduced from 669 m2 to 214 m2. 

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3The ground floor architectural plans of building C, image courtesy of Collecddev

Several Live-Work units have been added to the Wilson Avenue frontage. This type of unit allows professionals to combine a retail or office use with their personal living space using a modular partition. A service business, such as a real estate agent or accountant, could operate a small practice in one of these units.

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3The live work units and condo lobby entrance on the Wilson frontage, image by Collecdev

The height of Building A has been reduced from 13 to 12 storeys – or 36.5 metres, while buildings B and C have retained their previously proposed 12 storey elevation. The north elevation of all the buildings have step-backs reaching down to three storeys at the building’s lowest point, within the 45° angular plane which addresses the low-rise homes to the north. Green roofs and residential terraces sit atop each step-back. The building will feature 1862 m2 of green roof coverage.

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3Green roofs and terraced set backs on the north side of Building A, image courtesy of Collecdev

As the functions within the complex have changed, so has the architectural expression. gh3 architects have introduced more articulation in the massing. The Wilson streetwall is now more articulated to break up the more imposing streetwall of the previous design. The unique sawtooth design of the original roofline (see below) is no longer incorporated in the latest iteration. The motif of the white metal grid framing of recessed balconies that dominated the previous design has been retained, and some projecting private balconies have been added to the western elevation.

470 Wilson, Collecdev, gh3The old design of the building before the alterations, image courtesy of 470 Wilson, Collecdev

Stay tuned for more news as the proposal completes the planning process and heads to the sales and construction phases. In the meantime, you can find more renderings in our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Tell us what you think by getting involved with the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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