By Roy Wood
David Perehudoff is becoming the public face of attainable and affordable housing in Oliver as he heads up the Oliver Landing and Oliver Heights low-to-medium-cost developments.
Now in his mid-50s, Perehudoff was born in California. He sports an unruly head of black hair tinged with grey, is partial to distressed jeans and t-shirts and bears a passing resemblance to Hollywood character actor Dennis Farina.
Thirty years or so into a career in various aspects of residential development, he claims to have found a home for himself and his partner in Oliver. “We’re retiring here. I’m staying here, hopefully for the rest of my life,” he said in a recent interview at the Oliver Landing worksite just north of Co-op Avenue and Sawmill Road.
Foundations were being poured there for some of the first units of what is envisioned to be development of about 130 homes, mostly in the low $300,000 price range.
A couple of kilometres to the northwest of Oliver Landing is the proposed site of a larger budget-priced residential project called Oliver Heights.
Nothing has actually happened on that site yet, as Perehudoff and the town negotiate some of the key details around density and lot sizes. But eventually, the site at the foot of a sand hill in the northwest corner of the town will be chock-a-block with single family and duplex “micro-homes” in the 800-1000-square-foot range.
The senior manager of both of these projects is Perehudoff.
The son of an ex-pat Canadian developer, he says, “from the age of 12, I was working in the ditches in northern California.” He continued working for his father’s development company as he went through university and beyond.
When his mother became ill in the late 1990s, the family returned to Canada, settling in Alberta, where he again became involved in residential construction. He eventually became involved in the 2500-unit Wildflower Ranch development in Strathmore, south of Calgary.
However, in 2006, before the first foundation was built on the site, another firm bought the whole development.
Perehudoff’s next deal was a residential development in Alberta called The Heights at English Bay. Started in 2011, it was a higher-end project on the shores of Cold Lake, in the heart of oil and natural gas country.
However, when the price of oil crashed in 2014 and the NDP was elected less than a year later, the development was stalled, he said. The ownership and plans remain in place, but the project is on hold.
Asked if people in Oliver should be concerned that either or both of the local projects might be partly developed and then sold, like Wildflower, Perehudoff said, “That’s a very good concern. (But) we’ve had offers to buy both developments and we’ve turned the down.”
He said when he agreed to become project manager it was on the condition the developments not be sold. “We’re in it for the long run. We’re not going to flip.”
The major players in the two projects are Bounty Imports and Strategic Software, both of Vancouver. They own Oliver Landing Development Corp. and, along with Scotty Grubb Inc. and a group of other investors, Oliver Heights Holding Corporation.
Perehudoff doesn’t work directly for either corporation. He is an employee of Canadian Wetlands Inc., a company owned by his life partner Leahann Nordin, who is listed on the Oliver Landing website as its director of marketing.
According to the website, Nordin has an extensive background in residential design and will “put her mark on the project, as she is responsible for the interior design and marketing for the project.”
For Perehudoff, the key element of both of the projects is the low price points and their attractiveness to low- and mid-range income earners.
He says 16 units have already been sold and there are reservations for 12 more in the 40-unit first phase of Oliver Landing. There is one more unit available at $289,000 and then the price jumps to $329,000, he said. The price point, he says, classifies the development as “attainable housing.”
The strata development comprises fourplexes of between 1,350 and 1,450 square feet with garages and a small yard. The units are all three storeys high and therefore less than ideal for seniors.
“The comment from the town was, ‘We don’t need any more senior housing. We have tons of senior housing here’,” he said. “We do offer an elevator option or a dumbwaiter option. (But) we talked the two people who wanted them out of it.”
Perehudoff said the current plan is for part of the next phase of the project to be even cheaper.
“Originally it was all going to be attainable housing. (But) the plan now is to start a true affordable housing section,” he said. “I want a chunk of it to be affordable. I think the town will agree.”
He said he hopes to create a non-profit housing authority that would be able to access government and other subsidies to reduce the costs even further.
The concept for Oliver Heights goes even a step further along the track toward affordability.
At an open house late last week and at a town council meeting on Monday, Perehudoff talked about plans for 210 single and duplex units being built over 10 years and sold in the $225,000 range.
One of the keys to making them so cheap is that they will be small: between 850 and 950 square feet on two levels in the so-called “micro-homes.”
The way the project s intended to roll out is for the Oliver Landing Development Corporation to sell lots to local builders, who would build homes according to architectural guidelines and sell them.
Perehudoff has asked the town for a downward adjustment in the allowable lot size from 12 by 30 metres to 10 by 25 metres. “We put in an application on May 1, so it’s been 90 days. We’re still going back and forth.”
Monday’s appearance before council seemed generally well received. Council members were non-committal, with Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger summing up with, “I’m just looking forward to seeing more plans.”