1420 King St. East
50 unit six-story apartment building. 38 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units, individual air-exchange heat/AC, elevator
No smoking, outside parking, most units carpeted, appliances included (fridge, stove) shared laundry in lower level no-charge, community room, part-time superintendents, this is a 55+ building
For information related to vacancies, contact:
Phone: (519) 578-6077 (Joanne Coles ext.5)
Tenants are responsible for their electricity. Units are individually metered. A deposit with Kitchener Wilmot Hydro may be required for new accounts. Parking spaces are limited and availability should be confirmed at time of application. While this is a no smoking building, some existing tenants are grandfathered. Tenants are responsible for their own content insurance.
Rockway Gardens Village is located next door to the Eastwood Community apartments at 1414 King St. East. In 1987 Eastwood Mennonite Community Homes (EMCH) built the seniors condominium apartment directly across from Rockway Gardens on a site that used to be the turnaround and maintenance yard for trolley cars. By the early 2000s, the EMCH board had accomplished their purposes, their membership was aging and the internal condominium board was well-established. They decided it was time to wind down their activity and to divest themselves of their assets. This included a three-quarter acre piece of land beside the condominium, which many residents assumed was their yard.
The board recalled the idea of lower-income housing – providing an opportunity for seniors with no equity or income – and thought of MennoHomes. They sold the land, which had an estimated value of a half-million dollars, to MennoHomes for ten dollars. Within months of the purchase of the Eastwood land, the Region of Waterloo announced a call for proposals for affordable housing for seniors. MennoHomes submitted a proposal to build a 50-unit building for seniors and was approved for a $2.1 million allocation under the Canada-Ontario “Strong Start” Affordable Housing Program.
The Eastwood board assisted MennoHomes in organizing community meetings to present the project and to explain why they supported it. There was some opposition from owners who worried their view of Rockway Gardens would be cut off but MennoHomes amended their design to accommodate these concerns. There were also some initial challenges including the boundaries of the lot which followed the exterior wall of the existing building. EMCH and MennoHomes worked with a lawyer to move the lot line.
The biggest challenge however occurred when it was discovered that the land was actually a brownfield – the soil was contaminated by a leaking underground tank. The cost of reclaiming the site was an additional $200,000. The project did, however, qualify under the City of Kitchener Brownfield’s Remediation program, which helped defray costs. MennoHomes worked with Architecture Incorporated and Brian L Shantz Ltd as architect and primary consultant for the project. It was decided to include a number of energy-saving measures in the construction process. The cost of measures to improve the building envelope, windows, mechanicals and lighting efficiencies was estimated at $100,000. A federal government grant of $47,234 (CBIP) helped to offset the extra costs. It was estimated that the annual energy savings would be in the area of $25,422. The savings have benefitted both MennoHomes and tenants.
A board member commented “We’ve learned that it pays to build the best quality upfront, even if we have to stretch to do it. We’re more positive than ever that we have to build to an ecological standard. We want people to be able to afford to heat their homes. People often have to choose between utilities and food – and we don’t want them to have to choose. It is important to us that we build environmentally-friendly and efficient homes.”
By spring 2007, the residents began to move in. Many of the residents were widows with a very small annual income, who had faced rising rents that were beyond their means. They welcomed the opportunity to live in safe and secure housing with public transportation at the door, and the Rockway Seniors Centre and Rockway Gardens across the street.
The Community Support Worker role which had been established at Village Road now grew to include the new building, which was officially known as Rockway Gardens Village and more informally as 1420 King Street. In the words of the Community Support Worker, “I work with the social committee of tenants to plan social activities. I’m the go-between if there are questions or complaints – I can pass this on to the property manager or take it to the board if it’s a policy issue. Typically, I’m someone to talk to and I take people to appointments if they don’t have family members.” She added, “Having a friendly ear and knowing that a landlord cares enough to add that little bit has been very meaningful for some people. It takes time to make friends with people, as you visit with them. Some don’t ask for attention and I don’t push myself on them, but I contact them periodically.”
The project estimates had a capital budget of $6.1 million. To qualify for government grants, MennoHomes agreed to contribute equity of $1,195,000 in land and cash (see chart below).
|Region of Waterloo grant in lieu of Development Charges||194,750|
|MennoHomes Contributions||a) land
|Mortgage from Mennonite Foundation of Canada||2,610,250|
|TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET||$6,100,000|
MennoHomes gratefully acknowledges the gift of land from the former Eastwood Mennonite Community Homes Inc. EMCHI surrendered its charter in 2004. It donated the land to MennoHomes Inc on the condition that a senior’s facility be built on the site. This project would not have been possible without their support.