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A case of condo fever

August 9, 2013

Every time I open up my web browser, I can’t help it. It just calls to me. That itch I can’t quite scratch.

That’s right. I’m apartment hunting on Kijiji.

It saddens me to think that I’ll be moving out soon. The Exchange does feel like home.

That’s why I attended CentreVenture‘s tour of downtown living spaces on Wednesday. They took me to the Loftworks on James – condos worth $300,000 and up (minus the $10,000 incentive that CentreVenture is offering).

Loretta and Patty from CentreVenture

Patty and Loretta from CentreVenture greeted me with this banner.

As a newbie freelance videographer and blogger, I don’t have tons of money to spend on a place. I was not expecting CentreVenture to show me a condo anywhere near my price range, but I wanted to see what possibilities are out there for those who are more well-off than myself.

More realistically, I am looking at apartments beyond the Exchange: Assiniboine, West Broadway, Corydon, Osborne, St. Boniface… The Exchange District is only affordable to students here because Red River College makes it so. Really, RRC has done a lot to make this place accessible to young people.

A dorm (single) room here rents for approximately $900/month right now. It sounds high, but (a) it is furnished and (b) you get a meal plan with it – worth $300-400/month. The grocery store issue (there are not really any) is mostly solved this way. Students eat food prepared for them by other students. The cycle of life continues.

I could enrol in a single class at any nearby schools to be eligible. It’s a legitimate option! And for those who want to work off their rent, they can become an RA for the building. You, too, can live here, and for considerably cheaper than anyone else in the Exchange.

CentreVenture is obviously trying to appeal to people of a different ilk than myself. I make films. I probably will never make enough to live at the Loftworks on James. But I am curious enough to take a look at them.

And…

They are beautiful.

Here are some photos:

The Loftworks on James

Sign for building

living room

kitchen

kitchen and dining room

bedroom

My guides, Loretta and Patty (along with Lisa, the real estate agent), were very knowledgeable about the condo business.

I really enjoyed walking with Loretta to and from the condo. She would point at buildings and tell me their stories. She knew about each building’s history, which ones were in current use, whether that use was commercial or residential or both, and what plans lay in store for it.

I discovered that I have a lot to learn about urban planning, too.

I came away excited by seeing vacant buildings transformed into beautiful living spaces. Ultimately, though, I felt disappointed because those places are not for people like me. They are those who can afford it: empty nesters from the suburbs looking to downsize or yuppies with more conventional employment.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had money to spare I would invest in one of those suites pronto (and there are a few places that are cheaper, too). However, I would like to see more affordable housing in the Exchange created to match the number of snazzier places, if only to diversify the population.

I have spent the last couple of days investigating this city’s history with urban revitalization and gentrification (yes, I just bombed you with links – you’re welcome), and I am still discovering the ins and outs of it all. It seems to me that these are complex issues that require much discussion to resolve, and that means that CentreVenture, the Exchange District Biz, Residents of the Exchange District, and even the average Joe living in the area have to be in constant communication to ensure that city planners meet their own specific needs.

So… if anyone knows about an affordable 1 or 2 bedroom in or around downtown, please let me know.

Side note: Patty from CentreVenture sent me this interesting article. Turns out women are more into downtown living. I meet opposition from the SO sometimes, so I can attest to this firsthand.