Construction delays, rent increases to come despite $18 million in investments
After undergoing some financial turbulence earlier this year, the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Woodnote Housing Project has secured all of its funding.
In a Nov. 13 press release, the CSU announced that new investments—including an additional $1.1 million from the City of Montreal last month—allowed the project to meet its $18 million budget.
The organization spearheading the project, Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE), has also reached a deal with a private construction contractor, although the release did not provide a name.
“I can officially say that the project survived a 30 per cent budget increase over the summer,” said Laurent Levesque, UTILE’s general coordinator, at the CSU’s regular council meeting on Nov. 14.
The Concordian previously reported that, over the past year, UTILE had to increase the project’s budget from $14 million to $18 million due to the rising cost of construction in the city, among other factors.
“Ever since the beginning, when we sat down with the CSU execs to discuss about strategies moving forward, our objective was to find a way to resolve this without adding any CSU money to the project, which is something we accomplished,” said Levesque. The CSU has contributed $1.85 million to the project. This funding comes from the union’s Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fund.
Levesque told the CSU the new investments are “a mix of extra grants and extra loans,” from UTILE’s investors. This includes additional grants of $1 million each from the Caisse d’économie solidaire Desjardins and the Fond d’investissement pour logement étudiant.
Despite these investments, the project will not meet its projected deadline. “We are in November now and it’s too cold, so it’s not possible to do the foundations right away,” said Levesque. Because of this, construction will not be completed by July 2019 as originally planned. The press release states that the residence, located on Papineau Ave. across from Parc Lafontaine, will open sometime in 2020.
Levesque said that rent for the residence will also have to be increased to accommodate the new investments. He said this 10 per cent net increase will mostly be absorbed by the studio apartments, which are already the least expensive. According to the revised term sheet for the project, which was prepared for the council meeting, 62 of the residence’s 90 units are studio apartments, representing nearly half of the building’s 144 bedrooms.
In a referendum in November 2014, 89 per cent of Concordia students voted in favor of the housing project, according to the CSU’s website. A 2014 market study by UTILE found that 4,200 beds were needed for students in Montreal.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad.