Investing in local housing

Magazine names area northwest of Queen’s among best to invest in

Kingston's student housing could benefit from zoning changes, property manager says.
Kingston's student housing could benefit from zoning changes, property manager says.
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The area northwest of Queen’s campus was recently named one of the top 100 neighbourhoods in the country to invest in by Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine.

After spending six months researching neighbourhoods, by consulting local realtors and mortgage brokers, the results were released last month.

“Our readership will start to invest and put money into Kingston, and then it will create a lot of positive effects for the future economic growth of the city,” said Julia Comitale, the magazine’s marketing and communications executive.

“It’s important for the residents to know because it will just create more jobs by creating condominium complexes.” The evaluation data included population, median price, capital growth within 12 months, vacancy rate, crime severity index, infrastructure and proximity to employment centres.

While Comitale is hopeful that these results will bring greater investment into Kingston, not all residents are as positive about the possibility of housing expansion. In a recent poll on the Kingstonist, “a community driven” online news source, 78 per cent of the 122 people polled who were against the idea of expansion of student housing, which is increasingly growing in the neighbourhood in question.

Dana Jones, ConEd ’14, currently resides on Beverly St. which is just west of the University.

He said his neighbourhood has a mix of students and permanent residents.

“Families are going about their business while we go about ours,” he said.

“We spend so much time in our Queen’s bubble that we don’t really think

about the residents outside the bubble or even the non-student residents within [the bubble].”

He believes that change is imminent for the housing areas surrounding the University.

“The dynamic of life between students and non-students are just some of the inevitable changes, for possibly better or worse,” he said.

However, A.J. Keilty, owner of property management company Varsity Properties, said he believes there’s a way to stop students from taking over the family residential areas.

“There needs to be a major zoning change for the area around Queen’s,” he said.

He said because enrolment is expanding, Queen’s students are taking less desirable options.

According to Queen’s online financial service report, Queen’s has a growing enrolment, with an increase in 2010 of 12 per cent from 2005.

The report also outlines plans for 2010-14 to increase undergraduate enrolment almost 8 per cent.

Keilty said he suggests changing the zoning in the area around the University to allow taller complexes to be built, which is currently prohibited.

He said the lack of student parking on campus as a contributing factor in the housing issue. Because of this, students are unwilling to commute from further neighbourhoods, he added.

“Since it gets cold fast, students want to live closer to campus,” he said. “Once the zoning changes, investors will invest in new building because there is no risk.” Right now, students are paying for houses that are at times, pretty run down, he said.

“We don’t want any more investors, we need brand new houses in brand new builds,” he said.

“The problem is over time, the use of that land has changed and the zoning hasn’t changed.”

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