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CMHA PEI Division – 203 Fitzroy Street Project

A Maritime, Commercial Modular, Affordable Housing Success Story

From a simple connection at a hockey tournament between CMHA Board Member, John Horrelt, and the President and CEO, Troy Ferguson of 720 Solutions (a Commercial Modular General Contractor) the vision for our 203 Fitzroy Street building was put into motion. Over the next 2 years, CMHA PEI and 720 Solutions would work hand in hand to bring affordability, modular, and wraparound services together for an economical, rapid housing solution to the Charlottetown area.

We worked with our partners at 720 Solutions, along with outside contractors Leading Edge Group, Nine Yards Studio, and Karve Builders to ensure the project on Fitzroy Street would meet the Rapid Housing Initiative funding criteria from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Government of Canada and the Prince Edward Island Government. 720 Solutions gave CMHC the confidence that the project would be delivered on time and on budget, in fact, this project was completed with less than 3% cost overruns! Building an affordable, modular housing unit with wraparound services for our clients and staff was the overall goal of this project. But, actively working towards keeping it at low cost, low waste production, and a short build time was crucial to ensuring this economical rapid housing solution was the right fit for our Charlottetown community.

Kent Homes would manufacture the 36 turnkey modular units. By sourcing the units within the Maritimes it saved on the overall cost of shipping from the original budget. These units were transported from New Brunswick to PEI in March 2022 and in April 2022 they were stacked on-site in an incredible timeframe of 5 days! Once in place, plumbing, and electricity were run throughout the pre-constructed units, and siding was placed on the outside bringing the concept drawing, made 2 years prior, to life.

Over the months of April-September, construction continued on the 203 Fitzroy Street building. Planning around staffing, and move-in dates proceeded along with consideration of CMHA PEI’s Wraparound Services including Crisis Care and Outreach, Case Management, Independent Living Supports, Self Help/Support Groups and Peer Support Programming and Groups for our future tenants. A deadline for staff to move in was set for September, with a plan for the first tenants to begin moving in October.

In November of 2022, a little over 2 years after the initial talks surrounding this building began, we will officially open the doors to our 203 Fitzroy Street building through the Rapid Housing Initiative funding from CMHC, the Government of Canada, and the PEI Government. With leadership, project management, and partnership from 720 Solutions, Leading Edge Group, Nine Yards Studio, Kent Homes, and Karve Builders, we have met every deadline, kept our budget cost-efficient, and kept waste production to a bare minimum. CMHA PEI is proud to open the doors to our 203 Fitzroy Street building, an affordable, safe, secure, and supportive new community in Charlottetown where our staff and clients can find comfort, and stability and continue building upon their mental well-being in their new home!


How 203 Fitzroy Street Project Began

In October 2020, CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) launched the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to create jobs, support economic recovery, and eliminate chronic homelessness in Canada. Delivered by CMHC, under the National Housing Strategy, RHI provides capital contributions to develop new, permanent, affordable housing by covering costs associated with modular multi-unit rental construction; conversion of non-residential to affordable multi-residential homes; and, rehabilitation of buildings in disrepair and/or abandoned to affordable multi-residential homes.

CMHA PEI was approached by the Department of Social Development and Housing (DSDH) about our interest in exploring this RHI opportunity, and by early December 2020, a design team was sourced with extensive experience in modular builds. 720 Solutions, based out of Calgary, AB, were quick to determine that the modular build capacity in Atlantic Canada was low, so they sourced capacity in the Prairies that could meet the RHI timeframe. From here, meetings began with 720 Solutions, Nine Yards Architecture, DSDH staff, and CMHA PEI for a 33-unit modular building with ground-floor commercial space.

In early January of 2021, in partnership with DSDH, CMHA PEI secured funding for the purchase of land at 203 Fitzroy Street in Charlottetown. Unfortunately, in mid-February, the notification came through that the application for RHI was unsuccessful. However, after discussions with the Province, DSDH confirmed that they still wished to go ahead with a scaled-down version of the project – a 20-unit modular building with commercial space rather than 33 units. DSDH also offered a financial contribution similar to their share of the RHI application. CMHA PEI reviewed the scaled-down version of the project and the financial viability without federal funding and determined it was viable and agreed to proceed.

In early April of 2021, weekly meetings began with CMHA PEI, 720 Solutions, Nine Yards Architecture, Leading Edge Group as the general contractor, and various consultants. Without the timeframe constraints of the RHI, 720 Solutions sourced Kent Homes as the supplier of the modular units. Sourcing the units within the Maritimes saved on the overall cost of shipping from the original budget.

Initial Meeting Between CMHA PEI, 720 Solutions, Leading Edge Group, Nine Yards and Karve Builders

A Second Chance for Capital Funding

In July 2021, the second round of RHI was announced by CMHC. A deadline of August 2021 was given with the understanding that only those who applied in December 2020 were eligible for this round. Discussions between DSDH and CMHA PEI concluded that we would scale the project back up for this second round, and designs were reconstructed to add another 8 units, bringing the total to 28 units.

With the addition of these 8 units, the modular build would require a fourth floor. The plans were submitted to the City of Charlottetown Review Board and the City Council, and a height variance approval was granted.

The application for the second round of RHI was submitted in August of 2021, for 28 units with ground-floor commercial space, and a full basement for meeting and storage space.


The Designs

Full Basement with Meeting and Storage Space Design
Ground Floor Commercial Space/Office Space Design
Tenant Unit Design
Property and Parking Lot Design

Site Preparation & Off-Site Construction

In the fall of 2021, we broke ground at the 203 Fitzroy Street building site, with Leading Edge Group jumping in full force over the next few months to lay the footings, and place the floor and foundation for the pre-constructed units set to arrive in April 2022. All the while Kent Homes was hard at work building and preparing the turnkey modular units for delivery and installation. Each modular unit would arrive fully pre-constructed with a full kitchen, bathroom, living area, bedroom(s), doors, and windows. Once on-site, plumbing and electrical work would begin to complete the units.

Breaking Ground
Footers and Beginning of Foundation
Foundation
Floor Complete
Basement
Modular Units Inside the Kent Factory
A Modular Unit In Construction at Kent Factory
A Fully Installed Kitchen Inside One of the Turnkey Units

Partnership with Holland College Project Management Students

In October of 2021, we approached Holland College to inquire if there would be an interest in partnering with us to document the build and offered students in the Post-Grad Project Management Program the opportunity for practical learning through this partnership.

We were invited into the classroom in December of 2021 by Holland College Learning Manager, Patricia Uptegrove. CMHA PEI staff joined, virtually by Mike Gruber from 720 Solutions, presented the students with this opportunity which was greeted with great enthusiasm and excitement from the students. The Project Management students were involved in weekly meetings, on-site visits, and all the behind-the-scenes actions that took place during the lead-up to the delivery and installation process.

The students would combine their learnings and experiences into the Capstone Project Presentation, which would be presented to fellow Holland College staff and students, CMHA PEI staff, and folks from 720 Solutions in April 2022. Read more about this partnership through Holland College’s blog post HERE! Congratulations to all of the students for graduating successfully!

Holland College Project Management Post Graduate Certificate Program – From Left to Right – Learning Manager of Project Management, Esther Duncan, Project Management Students, Instructor Patricia Uptegrove, and
CMHA PEI Executive Director, Shelley Muzika.

Delivery & Installation

In March of 2022, the 36 modular units would be transported one by one from Kent Homes in New Brunswick to PEI and delivered to the Charlottetown event grounds to await installation. 

2 of the Modular Units traveling over the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to PEI
Modular Units Arriving at Charlottetown
Event Grounds

Installation would begin on April 20th, 2022 with each unit being transported from the Charlottetown Event Grounds to the 203 Fitzroy Project site via truck and trailer. Once they arrived, they would be craned one by one into place with less than an inch of leeway once set. On April 25th, Federal/Provincial dignitaries, along with representatives from Non-profit Organizations, Architectural, Construction, Modular and Commercial businesses joined on-site to discuss the journey from concept to installation, view the final units being craned into place, and take a guided tour through the building as the designers and project management team gave details on the project. The installation process of the 36 units was completed in an impressive 5 days. Articles related to this project and the April 25th on-site activities can be found through the following links: New modular apartments in Charlottetown stacked with potential, Ottawa funds new housing for P.E.I. residents with mental health, addiction issues in Charlottetown

April 20th, 2022 First Day of Craning Installation – Rigging One of the Units for Craning
April 20th, 2022 – Side View of the First 5 Units
Press Conference Held On Site April 25th, 2022 – Staff from 720 Solutions, Leading Edge Group and Karve Builders joined by (Front Left) Former Minister of the Department of Social Development and Housing, Brad Trivers, Charlottetown MP, Sean Casey, Executive Director of CMHA PEI, Shelley Muzika and President of CMHA PEI, Cecil Villard.
April 25th, Final Day of Craning
April 25th, 2022 – Group Tours Through the Building – Pictured from left to right – President and CEO of 720 Solutions, Troy Ferguson, Honourable Premier of Prince Edward Island, Dennis King, Executive Director of CMHA PEI, Shelley Muzika, and Former CMHA PEI Board Member, John Horrelt.

Bringing It All Together

Over the months of April-September, construction continued on the 203 Fitzroy Housing Unit. Planning around staffing, and move-in dates proceeded along with consideration of CMHA PEI’s Wraparound Services including Crisis Care and Outreach, Case Management, Independent Living Supports, Self Help/Support Groups, and Peer Support Programming and Groups for our future tenants. A deadline for staff to move in was set for September, with a plan for the first tenants to begin moving in October.

In November of 2022, a little over 2 years after the initial talks surrounding this building began, we officially opened the doors to our 203 Fitzroy Street building through the Rapid Housing Initiative funding from CMHC, the Government of Canada, and the PEI Government. With leadership, project management, and partnership from 720 Solutions, Leading Edge Group, Nine Yards Studio, Kent Homes, and Karve Builders, we have met every deadline, kept our budget cost-efficient, and kept waste production to a bare minimum. CMHA PEI is proud to open the doors to our 203 Fitzroy building, an affordable, safe, secure, and supportive new community in #Charlottetown where our staff and clients can find comfort, and stability and continue building upon their mental well-being in their new home!

203 Fitzroy Street Completion