WHA rental building goes up for sale 

Tenants given first crack at 21-unit Nordic Court property

Ian Bartley and Melanie Bigney never believed they would own a home in Whistler in the near future.

They certainly didn’t think they’d be Whistler homeowners by the middle of the summer.

But a unique opportunity from the Whistler Housing Authority fell right into their laps recently, just as they were getting more and more discouraged about their buying power in the Squamish market.

"We’re going to own in Whistler first of all, that in itself is a pretty exciting thought," said Bartley.

"We really thought that for the amount we got pre-approved for we would never find anything here in Whistler."

The couple, who have been living in Whistler for three to four years, didn’t have to look much further than their Nordic Court mailbox for their new home.

A letter from the Whistler Housing Authority advised them that the one-bedroom unit they were renting from the WHA at 2007 Nordic Court was now up for sale. And they, as the rental tenants, have first dibs.

It was just what they were looking for.

The sale of the 21-unit complex is now underway.

The one bedroom units are 646 square feet. They will sell for approximately $217,000 and $219,000.

The two bedroom units are 737 square feet and will sell for between $305,000 and $319,000, depending on location in the building.

Tim Wake, WHA general manager, said those prices are a little lower than the current market value.

But the WHA wanted to market them as a good deal, ensuring that they could sell all 21 units at once, and at the same time they did not want to affect the prices in the neighbouring 2005 Nordic Court building.

Now both Nordic Court buildings will be employee-restricted but there will be no restrictions on their resale or rental value.

That was a huge selling point for Bartley.

"The most exciting thing about it was the fact that it wasn’t going to be subject to the resale cap," he said.

"Most other Whistler Housing places are."

Another selling point for the couple, who both work for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, was that their lifestyle will not have to change. They would have faced a much longer commute to work had they moved to Squamish.

Now their monthly rent cheque will simply become their monthly mortgage payment.

Wake explained the WHA’s rationale for selling off their rental units in this complex.

The building was built in 1988 as part of a two-building complex.

The project has increased in value over recent years.

"We can do so much more with that equity," he said.

"We’ll sell 21 units and we’ll be able to build probably 100 units."

The units are expected to generate $5 million from this sale. That money will go directly into the housing fund for future projects.

In addition to the money, Wake said the WHA recognized a growing need for ownership opportunities in Whistler, as opposed to rental.

"The intent is to sell them to owner occupiers," he said.

Bartley said the initiative is a great idea even though there are only 21 units for sale and hundreds of people on the WHA waitlist.

"It’s encouraging to see that Whistler Housing is doing that but it’s still frustrating to think that it’s a three year wait (for some) to get into a place," he said.

Wake said Bartley and his partner are a perfect example of the benefit of selling off this complex.

The couple was planning to move to Squamish and had even put bids into some places. Now they have been enticed to stay in Whistler.

"It’s always exciting when what we’re doing actually works for people and keeps people here," he said.

"That’s why I’m excited. It’s a win for the community."

Renters in the complex will have until July 15 to submit a contract to the WHA along with a deposit cheque for 5 per cent of the unit price.

After that, on July 20, the WHA will hold an open house for housing waitlist applicants as well as owners of the other Nordic building who may want to upgrade to a bigger unit.

The units will be released to the public at a July 24 open house.

The WHA will help tenants who are not interested in buying a unit find another rental opportunity in another employee-restricted rental property.

The WHA will also honour all existing tenancies until the date of the lease termination.

For information about the sale of 2007 Nordic Place called the WHA at 604-905-4688 or e-mail mail@whistlerhousing.ca

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