By Eve Tobolka
Ryerson’s residence housing crunch will be slightly alleviated this September, when a new private, student-geared apartment building opens at Church and Gerrard streets.
But Ryerson is concerned the leases will lock in students for one year instead of eight months. Horizon Legacy Infrastructure Corp. is constructing the rental-only apartment building across the street from Kerr Hall North.
Horizon president Anthony Zwig says he approached Levy months ago as a “neighbourly gesture — just letting them know what we’re up to.” So far, Levy has held off on starting a formal relationship with the corporation, citing a need to investigate whether the apartment building will meet students’ needs.
He said he hoped the apartments would offer affordable eight-month leases that suit the academic year. “We would have to make sure it’s in the best interest of the students and at an affordable rate.”
However, the developer confirmed tenants will be required to sign year-long leases, making a partnership between the building and the university less likely. “We’re not going to have any financial involvement in it, that’s for sure,” said Levy.
Ryerson students and the off-campus housing office have yet to be informed about the building and whether it will be an affordable housing alternative for students.
When told about the new building, first-year business management student Kareem Thompson said he would be glad to see additional housing around campus.
“Another apartment building could help keep rental fees in the area low — but anything’s cheaper than residence.” Housing assistant Sarah McCarthy said he has yet to receive advertisements through the department’s off-campus housing site.
Site superintendent Scott Gregory says the apartment complex wants to facilitate student life with a lounge, billiards room, courtyard, underground parking and bicycle storage areas. Once built, the L-shaped apartment will hug the building on the northwest side of Church and Gerrard streets, home to a Hassle Free Clinic, Top Barber and Hairstylist and Alicos Digital Copy Centre.
The new double-wing building of eight and 12 stories will have 187 apartments, with a maximum of three bedrooms per unit. Owner of Top Barber and Hairstylist Don Boyd welcomes the addition to the neighbourhood and “hope(s) it’ll boost business.”
Zwig said Horizon will be launching a new website in a month that will outline the furniture, bedding and kitchen wear packages that can be purchased and installed. Management has yet to decide the rental rates. Peter Allen, the general manager of student housing co-op Neill-Wycik said he expects the new housing complex will be costly, despite its rental-only promise.
“I can’t help but feel it’ll be expensive. But I also feel that Toronto won’t suddenly be hit with a shortage of students looking for housing.”
Allen isn’t worried about future competition from the new building because of their subsidized housing agreement. They offer 13 types of units with all-inclusive monthly rent ranging from $405 to $691.
Students living in Ryerson’s largest residences, Pitman Hall and the ILLC, pay between $993 to $1,232 in monthly fees, not including meal plans.