Nita Lake makes dent in housing waitlist 

32 townhouses offered to the top of the list

Craig Koszman has been waiting for roughly a decade to buy a great employee housing unit in Whistler.

He’s turned down a number of projects, which forced him back down to the bottom of the Whistler Housing Authority’s waitlist, but he was holding out for something he really liked.

He even turned down a highly-coveted unit in Spruce Grove last month.

But he knew the Nita Lake Lodge employee townhouses would be up for grabs soon and so he held out until Wednesday, March 29 when he finally put pen to paper and signed on the dotted line.

Koszman is now the owner of a one-bedroom unit plus den in the 44-unit Nita Lake employee housing complex.

"It’s worth it," he said of the long wait to this day.

"It’s really the best (project) in the valley."

Among its qualities, he said, are the great location on Alta Lake Road overlooking Nita Lake, the sunny exposure and the views right up Whistler Mountain.

Others agreed with that synopsis. In the first hour of the sale seven units were snapped up. They went to the first group of people on the employee housing waitlist, with only a handful passing on the opportunity. Whistler Housing Authority General Manager Marla Zucht expected the remaining units to be sold within a few hours.

This is the first major employee housing project to be offered to the waitlist since Phase III of the Bear Ridge project in which 40 units sold out in three hours in November 2002.

The Nita Lake Lodge townhouses range in price from $130,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $429,000 for the duplexes.

The four duplexes, the largest units offered, were the first to go on Wednesday.

That was not lost on the chair of the board of the WHA, Councillor Gord McKeever.

"Absolutely, there is a pent up demand for bigger units and single family houses," he said.

That’s why the municipality has tried to focus on the proposed Rainbow residential development, which is expected to deliver more than 300 employee housing units, with more single family and duplexes for employees he said.

Only 32 of the 44 Nita Lake Lodge townhouses are up for sale.

The developer, the Nita Lake Lodge Corporation, is keeping three units for employees of its hotel and train station development. The municipality is keeping nine units for essential services employees such as fire services employees and RCMP officers. Those nine units will be rented and if they are ever to be sold they will be offered to employees on the waitlist said Zucht.

As part of the whole rezoning package, which allowed a 78-room boutique lodge on Nita Lake as well as 14 large single family homes overlooking the lake, the developers were required to build two employee housing projects.

The second project, also on Alta Lake Road, was to have two apartment buildings with small, one-bedroom units for seasonal renters.

Developer David Ehrhardt said Wednesday that they are now looking at building larger townhouse units on the site to meet that growing demand in the valley.

"They’re (the future owners) the backbone of our community," said Ehrhardt.

He predicts there could be about 20 units for sale and he’s hoping to get a proposal before municipal staff in the next two months.

As of press time on Wednesday afternoon 19 units in the first project had been sold. The concrete footings have been poured on the site and work will continue over the summer and fall.

With his signed papers in hand Koszman said: "I just have to wait ‘til Christmas now to get in there."


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