Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Holmes Takes on A Housing Project

Another interesting article, this one from the Edmonton Sun. Yes, Mike Holmes is more than just a reality TV star. He proves this quite often...

A reality TV handyman will help turn an Edmonton affordable housing project into a $22-million reality.

Home building superstar Mike Holmes and his company — the Holmes Group — broke ground the second phase of the Boyle Renaissance project Tuesday — a 90-unit complex that will house Metis seniors and the disabled.
The ball for the project began to roll when one of his workers sat down with an Edmonton city planner on a airplane a while ago. After the conversation during the flight, the worker then took the idea back to Holmes and the rest is history.
“Affordable housing for so many years now was just that term. They were making a bunch of crap to make it affordable for people to live in. The issue is they don’t last,” said Holmes.
“I always say if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. Don’t waste money and don’t waste time.”
Holmes broke ground on the project Tuesday — a 90-unit complex that will house Metis seniors and the disabled.
The 120,000 square foot complex — located at 95 Street between 104 and 105 Avenue — will stand seven floors high and boast green design technologies including shared heat and power systems and mould resistant wood.
Solar energy generated by panels on the buildings rooftop will make the complex a net-zero living space. The roof will also have gardens that will act as thermal barriers in the summer, ultimately saving on heat regulating costs.
Three of the suites will be equipped with a state-of-the-art communication technology that will allow disabled tenants to control numerous aspects, like answering the door from just one control pad. All of the suites will have the ability to install the communications tools if the need arises.
That’s relieving news, says paraplegic Michael Willier.
“It’s really hard to find wheelchair adapted apartments, (especially) in the city — it’s pretty bad,” said Willier, adding that there are 150 new spinal cord injuries reported in Alberta every year.
“Once you get hurt…you’re most likely going to migrate to an urban setting because it’s just much easier to get around. If you think about the winter time on an acreage, you’re not going to be able to get out and do anything in a wheelchair.”
In addition to a rooftop terrace that’s accessible to wheelchairs, all signs on site will be typed out in braille. Certain suites will have specialized showers, adjustable counter space, and enlarged room sizes to accommodate wheelchairs.
All three levels of government have pitched in about $13.8 million to help make the project a reality.
The Holmes construction team will see the project through until it’s expected occupancy date in November 2013.
“It’s been absolutely amazing since we’ve met Mike and his team,” said MCHC executive director Darlene Lennie.
“We have turned to Mike to make sure that this project is built right. Being poor does not mean substandard.”
As a branch of the Metis Urban Housing corporation, the MCHC was launched in 1998 and owns and operates 198 homes.
In all, both groups have more than 1,000 affordable housing units in urban centres across Alberta.
The modern luxuries in the Boyle Rennaisance complex “raises the bar” for future affordable housing projects said Lennie.
Mayor Stephen Mandel said having a TV personality like Holmes gives the whole revitalization credibly and a “joie de vivre,” but ultimately it’s the hard work done by city staff and Lennie that has made this project a reality.
“This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been perseverance and hard work by a lot of people,” said Mandel.

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