Eganville – It could be described as the single biggest building project to date in the vilalge as 80 apartment units are built in three phases.

“We have two 30-unit apartment buildings on this property at 78 Queen Street where the old school was and the convent property will follow this fall with 20 units,” builder Chad Patrick of PFT Construction said at the building site in Eganville below St. James Church.

The old site of the St. James Separate School has been transformed from a derelict building with broken windows which was demolished two years ago to a building site for 60 apartments. There has been a lot of activity at the site in recent weeks with the foundation visible for the first apartment block and walls going up, providing those passing by with a rough idea of the building configuration. This comes after years of anticipation, speculation and even some criticism at the demolition of the old convent adjacent to this site and the lack of progress overall. The old convent was demolished in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.

“Things have been underway behind the scenes,” he explained. “It takes a few years to rezone and demolish. We got it all prepped and ready to go through COVID.”

Now that construction has begun, this will be the project the builder will be concentrating on and plans are to have it completed by next spring.

“We want to have these 60 units ready for move in on May 1, 2024,” he said.

The apartment unit at the old convent should be completed by October 1, 2024. For this project some of the stones from the old convent will be incorporated to pay tribute to the heritage of the building which was on the site before.

The first two buildings are $5 million projects each which generated $46,000 in building permits for the municipality. Built with ICF foundation, the walls and floors are framed off-site and brought in for installation, making the building go up very quickly.

“It all happens very fast as the wall was dropped off to the site last week,” Mr. Patrick said.

Each apartment will have a balcony and the apartments are between 650 square feet and 1,100 square feet. All are one bedroom and a den or two bedrooms. They will have either one or two bathrooms.

“And there is tile and luxury vinyl planking throughout,” he said.

Especially important is how soundproof the apartments will be, he added.

“No one soundproofs a building like we do,” he laughed.

Mr. Patrick brings a lot of building experience to the project. Not only has he built homes in Eganville, but he has built apartment buildings in other locations and done renovations in other projects including Bancroft and Pembroke. With this background in constructing apartment buildings, he knows what works and what doesn’t and this is being incorporated into the Eganville project.

“We have nine-foot ceilings, in-floor heating and everyone will have separate HRVs (which supplies the fresh air for each unit,” he said. “No one shares their air with anyone else in the building. Everyone also has their own appliances and hot water, so you don’t run out of hot water because someone else on the floor is using the hot water.

“We are building them as if they are condos but as an apartment building,” he said. “It is easier maintenance and a better product.”

Will people come to Eganville to fill these units? Mr. Patrick is confident they will.

“Canada’s population went up by over a million,” he said. “Where are they going to go?”

Eganville has a fantastic location close to both Renfrew and Pembroke and many people are wanting to come back to Eganville as well, he said. There are people wanting to downsize from a home to an apartment and this is a good fit, he added.

The apartment building, which is over three stories, will have an elevator and Mr. Patrick said people are already asking for a spot to be reserved on the top floor so they can have a view toward the river and the downtown.

The creation of the apartments will also facilitate growth in the community as families move into homes vacated for the apartments, he believes.

“We will build the units and half of the people moving in will be selling a house to move in so that frees up 30 to 40 houses which would not be on the market otherwise,” he said. “It allows other generations to buy a home.”

Mr. Patrick said by providing more housing in the community it means retirees can stay local or come back to the area, as well as opening up housing for families.

“We can keep people in the community who are needed,” he said. “They can spend in the community and this will benefit all the other businesses.”

Having the assisted living facility of Fairfields in Eganville is a big draw, he added.

“It keeps people living here and people plan on going there later,” he said. “People want to come back to where they are from.”

Throughout the process Bonnechere Valley Township has been very good to deal with, he added.

“They have been very fair,” he said. “Their departments are good to deal with.”

He said he had to do all the prep work and requirements, but the township did want to see the projects occur and were very cooperative.

This is not the only project he has planned for Eganville. As the owner of the old creamery building, he also has a vision for that building and while this construction is going on, paperwork and re-zoning for the creamery project is taking place. Work on that project is anticipated to start in 2024. There is also a subdivision planned on 14 acres near Legion Memorial Field where 40 to 50 homes will be built.

“It all takes time,” he said. “I have a plan; this year, this project is our priority. Then we will do the creamery and the subdivision.”

The buildings are not condos but are apartments and are not for sale as individual apartments. They will all be available for rent. Although he has a rough idea on what the rent will be, this will be set closer to the move-in date and will be based on the market price of the time.

“We are market rent,” he said. “There is no government subsidy. It is not affordable housing.”