Affordable housing available on campus

January 26, 2006, vol. 35, no. 2
By Diane Luckow

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A new, affordable residential housing complex for staff and faculty at UniverCity still has about a dozen units left for sale, but they're going fast.

The townhouse-style units will be sold at about 20 per cent less than market value. The SFU Community Trust wrote down the land and partnered with Vancity Enterprises, the community development arm of Vancity Credit Union, which agreed to forego a normal developer's profit in order to further reduce the end price.

“We reduced the land price by seven figures in order to make this housing more affordable for faculty and staff,” notes Michael Geller, CEO of the SFU Community Trust, which is charged with developing UniverCity.

To ensure an ongoing stock of affordable university housing over time, owners (who cannot rent out their units, except when on sabbatical) must sell their units to staff or faculty buyers at 80 per cent of market value at the time.

“This is a unique arrangement that differs from other universities,” says Geller, “because it allows people to realize an appreciation on their investment as the general market increases.” To provide further security, the university promises to buy back units from owners if they can't sell them later.

There are 60 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with prices ranging from $134,000 to $345,000. The compact units include a number of environmental features: geothermal heating, higher standards of insulation, improved indoor air quality, and water-efficient plumbing fixtures. They also come with high-end appliances and two attractive interior design choices.

The complex, located on University Crescent adjacent to the neighbourhood park, includes a small child-care facility, underground parking and a communal courtyard.
A preferential mortgage and financing package from Vancity guarantees a reduced interest rate.

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