The man hoping to develop a set of two-dozen condos at the foot of Tin Can Hill believes the project will “add to a beautiful part of town” when, and if, completed.
Milan Mrdjenovich, son of well-known developer Mike Mrdjenovich, recently purchased the rectangular lot at the base of the popular dog-walking green space.
The lot, previously owned by the City of Yellowknife, had been on the market for seven years.
Under his current proposal, Mrdjenovich and his company – 5437 Nunavut Ltd, which owns the land – would build two three-storey units each containing 12 two-bedroom condos.
Mrdjenovich told Cabin Radio it was too early to put a price on those units, and even to confirm that the development would go ahead as planned.
“Right now I can’t confirm if anything’s going to happen at all, nothing has been approved,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s just the planning stages. I’d like to say we have a nice, confirmed project for the new year, but there’s nothing confirmed right now.
“If they approve it, condo units is the goal, but things change. Nothing is set in stone yet.”
Mrdjenovich said he was eager to return to Yellowknife, where he was born, having recently completed two projects in Iqaluit.
“Obviously, my father’s been up there since the 70s,” he said. “I’m just looking to come a little closer to home, I’d like to do the next project there. I found the lot online, engaged the City, did some testing there, and the depth of the bedrock is a little deep but it’s manageable.”
Earlier, the City confirmed to Cabin Radio that a development permit application had been received and was being examined by the development officer. The lot is zoned R3 medium-density residential, allowing anything from a single home to more complex apartment blocks, though the height of any development is restricted.
In recent weeks, the first signs of work at the lot have appeared – leading some residents to wonder what’s about to happen, and others to express concern.
Two residents who contacted Cabin Radio on Tuesday said they had received no notice of work starting before a fence and equipment appeared. They also speculated that too much grading was already happening at the site.
City of Yellowknife rules state site grading with more than a 60-centimetre grade change requires a development permit, but a smaller grade change does not.
“I don’t need a permit to take out the trees and the overburden,” said Mrdjenovich. “All the extra dirt, I told them to spread it around to make a pad so it’s easier in the new year when everything’s frozen.”
Debbie Gillard, the city clerk, said: “Currently, the landowner is clearing the site of vegetation and overburden in anticipation of development in the future. A development permit is not required for this type of surface preparation.”
Mrdjenovich’s plan is not the first attempt to turn the lot into a housing development.
Three years ago, a proposal to build a 26-unit apartment block on the same site went as far as city council but ultimately petered out.
Developer Robert Findlay described his vision at the time as a “lower price-point rental project,” saying he wanted to start construction before the winter of 2016. However, by the spring of 2017, the land had still not been purchased – and nothing happened since.
The 2016 plan met with some concern around how overflow parking in the area would be managed, while neighbours expressed worry about the impact on their homes’ value.
Mrdjenovich aims to begin construction next spring, with work completed in the fall of 2020, if all goes to plan.
“It’s not a very big project, it’s not a major commercial project or anything,” he said.
“It all depends on the back-and-forth with the City. It’s a nice project, they’re larger units, and hopefully they’ll sell well. If it’s approved, it’ll be good for the city.”
More details should be available once the development permit application is approved by the development officer and published. Watch the City of Yellowknife’s Capital Update online newsletter to find out when that happens. Residents have a 14-day appeal period to lodge concerns once the permit is published.