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Senior housing unit still a possibility

By Staff | Dec 22, 2009

A Killarney, Manitoba developer said construction of a 14-unit one-level living complex tailored for senior citizens in Rugby is still a possibility provided there are enough tenants to fill it.

Harley Johnson said he would like to build the housing unit next year, but in the past few months the number of potential tenants has dropped.

He recently began advertising the proposed complex in the hopes to attract more tenants. “And we are going to advertise outside of Rugby as well,’ he added.

Johnson built senior-style complexes in Bottineau and Killarney and was contacted by a local women about a year ago to consider building one in Rugby. She had seen his units in Bottineau and was interested in moving into one, if it would be constructed in Rugby.

Johnson eventually contacted the Rugby Area Job Development Authority about building a senior-style unit in the city. From there, be began working with local landowner Gary Laughridge to secure lots and develop a site.

Eventually, Johnson applied for a five-year property tax exemption with the city of Rugby for the project. He had received an exemption in Bottineau for his complex there.

The JDA recommended passage of the exemption, but it was narrowly denied twice by the city council, who had reservations about whether a housing complex warrants tax exemption and fits within the framework of economic development. There was also concerns about whether it was in competition with other housing units.

Following the second vote in September, Johnson said he would wait a few months before deciding whether to proceed with the project.

Since then, the projected rent for each unit has increased about $80 a month due to rising building expenses. The fact the project will not receive some property tax relief also had to be adjusted in the business plan and lease costs.

Those higher-than-expected costs is a likely reason some would-be tenants backed out.

Johnson realizes that every project is going to have some stumbling blocks to get past, and he’s hopeful this one can move ahead.

The proposed complex would be built on the east side of town and would feature a spacious floor plan and amenities, including two bedrooms, two baths, insulated wood floors, in suite laundry and a single garage and patio.

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