Revelstoke is in a serious housing crisis and realistically when it comes to the number of rental units, we are running low. Now, many individuals have rental units in their home and they take great pride in them and make for a comfortable, warm and inviting living quarters. Naturally, those spots are usually snapped up really quick and presumably to a long standing citizen who lives and works here and needs an affordable, nice place to live.
The winter season brings thousands of travellers from all over the world and from all walks of life. Many come with dollars to support their costly outdoor adventure hobby, while others share rooms and split costs to make rent and stretch the dollar.
One apartment complex that has been notorious to the locals for years is the Columbia Gardens. Originally built in the late 1970s to help alleviate a housing shortage for dam workers, the building has since been eroding over time due to neglect and poor management.
The 1.60-acre lot sits on Laforme Boulevard as R-4 High-Density Residential Living and for those living in Columbia Park, often drive by it and shake their head at where it is at in terms of quality and product offered. While the location is convenient to the Revelstoke Golf Club, the Trans-Canada-Highway and a five-minute drive to downtown (unless you are stuck on the other side in the summer months), it is not the most desirable place to live.
Both Columbia Gardens and the Rivers Edge Apartment Complex went into receivership in October 2017. The current owner still has a name on the title, but ultimately the properties are now being managed by Raymond Burgen who owns a management company in Vancouver. The court-appointed receiver, Burgen has one person in charge of these particular locations; Jennifer Wiebe who shared with the Revelstoke Current the status of the two complexes’ and what is in store for the future.
“We are acting as an intermediary. With the building in foreclosure we are managing the day to day operations, taking the rent, paying the bills and if there is any leftover we fix what we can where we can. It will be business as usual until a new owner takes over.”
One of the major obstacles to the building is the serious dollars that would take to fix the building up. Numerous issues plague that building including mold and mildew, but Wiebe feels that most of the major issues are tenant caused. While some pay their damage deposit and leave the apartment as they found it, many do not and forgo their deposit and leave the apartment trashed.
Weibe stated that while she did find mold, the majority of it was in areas one would come to expect; the bathroom. Many tubs, sinks, and drainage areas were not sealed properly, thus leaving room for a constant drip or leak which seeped its way into the inner wall causing all sorts of mold issues. While some rooms were riddled with this problem, the big issue the Gardens faces is the high humidity which leads to mildew.
“Humidity is a huge problem there, creating constant moisture in the atmosphere which, of course, over time creates a mildew issue. Many tenants would complain of ‘mold’ and when we inspected it, it would be mildew from the humidity buildup.”
There are 73 units inside the apartment complex; however, not all are used. Some have had serious issues with them from a fire to overzealous tenants damaging the walls, to mold in the bathroom.
“As of right now, we are about half capacity. In the winter months, we are as full as we can be. The rooms that have issues, we do not rent out too.”
A one-bedroom unit can have up to two people in it to live, as where a two-bedroom unity can house up to four people per unit. This being an already packed living space would be even cozier when mattresses would be tossed in the living room and several more would join the fun.
While Wiebe was shocked at the lack of maintenance and care, she has seen worse buildings; of course, they are located in the bigger cities. With that said, she feels there is potential for the right owner and someone who understands the market and cares about the town.
“This property does make money. Nothing is insurmountable but it will take some time, money and effort. With proper management, it could be a really good money maker and steady cash flow. Someone needs to work on changing the reputation of the building.”
One obstacle is the asking price. It is currently listed at $9,500.000 with HM Commercial Listings. The Gardens generates $39,259.00 in tax revenue for the City (2017) while Rivers Edge draws $22,676.00 (2017). If the building were to be bulldozed, the property value would drop dramatically and thus the bank would not make their money back. Therein lies the rub; not many investors want a fix-me-up with an outlining cost of nine million dollars and several more million that would be needed to get the building up to proper living standards.