In Conversation with Mayor Paul Kelly; 232-unit Gravenhurst Development Proposal

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Skyline Development is the talk of Gravenhurst following a Tuesday Feb. 25 council meeting presentation.

The developer has proposed 232 rental units, retail commercial opportunities and a hotel on Talisman Drive next to Canadian Tire and Sobeys plaza.

Skyline also proposed a solar energy field as part of the overall development concept, which would contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and will make the development more sustainable and energy efficient over the long term.

Majority of the units are planned to be two-bedroom apartments with one-bedrooms sprinkled in, however, the developer is open to changes based on market demand.

Rental range is estimated between $900 to $1,800 depending on the size, not including utilities.

Muskoka housing activist Amy Snow said she is happy that the developers are interested in potentially offering affordable rentals.

“They initially said this proposal is not considered a subsidized affordable build for the purposes of approval and only about 5 percent at this time. They can however apply for a CMHC loan at very low interest and if they do 20 percent of the units can be affordable ... this kind of multiuse complex can easily sustain 20 percent affordable units and hoping we can work with them to include more and still be profitable. I’m excited for the birth of this project. I’m looking forward to further conversation and helping this all come to fruition,” said Snow.

Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly understands the need for housing. Kelly began his mayoral term with the housing crisis at the forefront. In an interview with Muskoka Post the mayor explains his outlook on the development.

“Skyline Developments purchased this south end plaza approximately a year ago. They have put forward a rental apartment proposal that would create housing opportunities, continuing to improve availability of accommodation for a variety of families wanting to live in Gravenhurst. Over the past few years our community has been in desperate need of housing ranging from rental to purchasing.  Now with this proposed concept, paired with the Loon Call subdivision in north Gravenhurst, we are starting to see the variety of accommodation at various price points we have been seeking.

Having the option to rent versus purchasing a home will definitely appeal to a wide variety of families.

As the development progresses Skyline looks to be flexible in their apartment offering pending the demand that surfaces. The initial plan is to focus on mainly one and two bedroom apartments with rental rates competitive to existing Gravenhurst accommodations. The developer is conscious of community needs related to the environment, accessibility and affordability.

Skyline has done their market research and recognizes Gravenhurst is a great location for growth given that it is less than 2 hours from the GTA. Availability of housing brings along with it economic development, employment and business opportunities. Although this is exciting news for the town of Gravenhurst, the planned development will not be everything to everyone but certainly goes a long way to providing options.”

Gravenhurst District Councillor Heidi Lorenz thinks “it’s an excellent opportunity for Gravenhurst and Muskoka. The more affordable units the better. It was revealed at the meeting last night that they need the zoning in place in order to apply for funding opportunities, the intent is there,” Lorenz said.

Councillor Terry Pilger echoed his colleagues and said the proposed development is “welcome news.“

“Gravenhurst has a definite shortage of rental units and many of our businesses having to bus in workers from outside the area. With this mix of residential and retail use we will have more people living, working and shopping in the south end of town. I can’t really see a downside,” said Pilger.

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