Hunke Construction is one step closer to building an affordable housing duplex in the village of Wellesley after receiving regional approval last week. The project is one of five that regional council gave the green light to as part of its plan to build at least 500 new affordable housing units by 2013. The five projects totaling 70 units bring the number to 452, just 48 short of that goal. Aside from the unit in Wellesley, which is to be built at an old church located at 3639 Nafziger Rd., council also approved a project by MennoHomes Inc. to renovate an old three-bedroom home on Ratz Street in Elmira, and to develop an adjacent vacant lot into a duplex for two four-bedroom units.
Bob Hunke said he hopes to have the project in Wellesley finished by August, which involves converting a 150-year-old church, originally the site of a Swedenborgian Church building constructed in 1858 and situated on approximately 0.1 acres of land. The project will convert the old church into two units: a three-bedroom barrier-free unit and a four-bedroom unit to accommodate large families. For the past two years the property has been used by Morningstar Family Ministries to run a private academy for students with learning disabilities, but the ministry has since relocated to another location.
“It’s exciting. We love Wellesley,” said Hunke, whose company also has an affordable housing unit on Queens Bush Road. He said the building should be popular for local Mennonites who have larger families and a need for more space.
Demolition inside the building has already begun, and Hunke said it will take some work to straighten out the walls and do some repairs to the roof, but he has high hopes for the building. Hunke purchased the property last year with the intention of turning it into a duplex, but then the provincial government announced $480 million in funding for affordable housing in Ontario over the next four years, which includes $23 million for Waterloo between April 1, 2012 and 2015.
“It’s just one of those things that worked out timing-wise and it worked out very well for us.”
Hunke Construction received approval from Wellesley council to rezone the property from institutional to residential last November, and got final approval for the project earlier this year. The biggest limitation for new construction in Wellesley is the amount of sewage space available, and council assured Hunke there would be no problem securing a second sewage unit, he said. He also said the historical society had no issue with the renovation, stating there was nothing of historical value associated with the building.
The construction company will double as the landlord for the property, and while the final numbers still need to be crunched, Hunke anticipates the rental costs for the four-bedroom will be approximately $700 per month, “which is very, very affordable for an apartment of that size,” he said.
The company is now just awaiting their final permits following the 20-day public consultation period so that they can continue work on the building, and Hunke expects that permit to arrive by the end of the month.