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Podium's second GEO apt. building underway in Kingston, Ont.

Developer also has several Greater Toronto Area projects on the go

GEO at 485 Albert St., in Kingston is the latest project to break ground by Podium Development Corp. (Courtesy Podium)
GEO at 485 Albert St., in Kingston is the latest project to break ground by Podium Development Corp. (Courtesy Podium)

Ground has been broken on GEO at 485 Albert, a new purpose-built rental building in Kingston, Ont., that will complement another Podium Development Corp. apartment project in the same area.

Podium, Secure Capital Partners Inc., Blue Vista Capital Management LLC, Vestcor Inc. and OPTrust are all investors in the six-storey, 176-unit building with 1,615 square feet of ground-level retail.

GEO at 485 Albert will have 33 studios, 105 one-bedroom units, 23 two-bedroom units and 15 three-bedroom units. All will be fully furnished.

It will also include: a rooftop terrace with dining and barbecue areas adjacent to a community art display; a pickleball court; a dog run and dog wash station; study and meeting rooms; living and dining rooms; a yoga/fitness studio; a private back garden; 200 bicycle parking spaces; 32 vehicle parking spaces; and seven electric vehicle charging stations.

“I think it will be at the higher end of the market for what it is, but the design of the building allows for affordability just by building smaller, well-designed and efficient units,” Podium co-founder and managing director Bernard Luttmer told RENX.

Occupancy is anticipated in September 2025.

Kingston is a priority market

The redeveloped brownfield infill site is a short walk to Queen’s University and downtown Kingston’s retail, dining and recreational offerings. 

GEO at 485 Albert will be the city’s second geo-exchange multi-unit residential building and first zero carbon-designed building. It’s also targeting a two-star Fitwel certification that recognizes provisions for optimal occupant health and well-being.

The apartment is the second phase of the adjacent GEO community, which was named for its geothermal heating and cooling system. That building is under construction across the street at 575 Princess St. 

When completed and ready for occupancy next May, GEO will add 520 units to a Kingston rental housing market that has a vacancy rate of less than one per cent. It will also have approximately 10,000 square feet of retail at grade.

Toronto-based Podium has already completed other Kingston buildings and is looking to line up all of its approvals so construction can start on another multifamily rental building at 275 Queen St.

It’s aiming to build a structure with approximately 15 storeys and 200 units. 

Luttmer said it will also be zero carbon-designed and target a Fitwel certification, as will all future Podium developments.

Podium’s Toronto-area projects

Podium, a vertically integrated, employee-owned company founded by Luttmer and Oskar Johansson in 2004, is about to start construction on a 219-unit apartment at 315 Spadina Ave., just south of College Street, in Toronto.

Ten per cent of the units will be considered affordable under existing guidelines.

Construction will also start this fall on a 26-storey, 720-bedroom, student-geared apartment building at 3070 Ellesmere Rd., near University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College’s Morningside campus.

Podium also owns a zoned site at 80 Dale Ave., just north of Kingston Road and west of the Guildwood GO Transit station in Scarborough. 

“We’re working with the city, the province and the federal government to provide as much affordable housing as possible on that site,” said Luttmer.

Podium is also in negotiations with affordable housing partners for that project, which Luttmer would like to see start construction as soon as possible.

The number of units hasn’t yet been decided and will hinge on the amount of government funding received for the affordable component.

A site recently acquired along with KIN Capital Partners and Secure Capital at Church and Gerrard streets in downtown Toronto must go through the rezoning process before it can move forward.

Podium also has a site zoned for a multifamily rental project at 77 East St. in Oakville, Ont. It’s looking to receive site-plan approval before the end of November and to start construction on a 244-unit apartment next year.

Podium focused on Ontario rental apartments

Luttmer called the federal government’s decision last month to eliminate the five per cent goods and services tax from new apartment construction costs a “huge win” for rental development.

“We had several projects that were waiting for this announcement and, now that it has happened, we can move forward with the projects,” said Luttmer, who added he’d like to see a similar announcement from the Ontario government that would be retroactive to the date of the federal initiative.

“We’ve really decided to focus our energy on building rental communities in Ontario,” said Luttmer.

“There's a massive need for housing in Ontario, so the market certainly provides us with ample opportunity to work.”

Podium and its investment partners are committed to long-term ownership and receiving the ongoing revenues rental apartments provide. 

Luttmer said it’s also easier to commit to net zero and other energy-efficient initiatives when the costs associated with them can be amortized over a longer period than with condominiums.

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