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New $8 million housing project ready to break ground

Clay Cup Developments’ ambitious housing project for Innisfail is now bigger, better and closer to being realized.

Clay Cup Developments’ ambitious housing project for Innisfail is now bigger, better and closer to being realized.

Construction of the project, which has a current budget of $8 million and includes a significant affordable housing component, is now expected to start this fall.

Clay Cup officials are hoping the project’s preferred three-acre site will be located in a southeast area of the town but that has yet to meet official town approval.

“This is an exciting time for Innisfail. This is huge. This will make up a lion’s share of the town’s total building permit values,” said Jeff Carlson, owner of Clay Cup, who is also spearheading an identical project in Sundre.

“The complicated part is keeping costs down,” he said, adding the projects in both towns will provide a healthy economic stimulus and additional employment opportunities. “The rest is not. The town has been very supportive.”

When completed the project will feature a three-story 24-unit housing complex. Sixteen of those units will be classified affordable housing, which will be provided to residents with rents at least 10 per cent below market value.

As well, the project will also include 16 entry-level townhouses, which will be subsidized by Clay Cup. Carlson said the sale prices will be “slightly” below market value.

When the project was first reported in February the plan for the Innisfail initiative called for a budge of $2.5 million with a 16-unit housing complex. It also envisioned 16 entry-level townhouses.

All profits will be directed to the Clay Cup Foundation, the company’s non-profit agency. Profits will be used in the development of the foundation’s other non-profit projects.

“Affordable housing is often considered a dirty word but we want people living together, integrated communities. We are bringing the townhouses around it,” said Carlson, who is optimistic the town will ultimately approve the preferred southeast location. “We have picked an area that is non-intrusive which will really complement the community. I think all residents will be very proud of it.”

Carlson said a web site dedicated to the project will be launched in about a month. He said local contractors will soon be able to bid for work on the project.

Meanwhile, town officials said they are equally excited the project is moving ahead without any major glitches.

Elwin Wiens, the town’s development officer, said there are still issues to be ironed out, including site approval along with servicing and access items. However, he added the project’s overall progress, with momentum clearly heading relatively unobstructed towards ground breaking day in the fall, is good news for Innisfail and residents, particularly ones who need help to either rent or own affordable housing.

He said the $8 million value of the project could end up being 15 to 20 per cent of the total building permit value for the town in 2011.

As well, said Wiens, Innisfail is in need of new stock of affordable housing.

“That is an area where we needed growth,” said Wiens. “It’s very important in today’s market. This is the first project of its kind we’ve had in some time.”

He said town officials are looking forward to meeting with Clay Cup officials next month when they come to council to present a detailed plan of their project.

The Innisfail an Sundre Clay Cup housing projects are funded privately along with a provincial Housing Capital Initiatives program grant of $3.4 million, half of which comes from the federal government.