LITTLE CURRENT—Jordan Stephens and Braeden Macaluso and their company, True North Builders, have been very busy over the past few years adding steadily to the Island’s housing stock, but the duo took time out of their busy schedule to chat with The Expositor about their plans for a new motel located off Walcot Street in Little Current. The motel will be located between Blake Street and Walcot, near Highway 6.
Our conversation is taking place standing in the living room of one of the new apartments in a four-plex True North Builders is constructing on Vankoughnet Street in Little Current. The apartment is located in the back and is still undergoing finishing touches while a new tenant moves into one of the front units.
“To be honest, we just purchased a commercial lot we saw come available,” said Mr. Stephens of the property where the business partners plan to build the new 12-unit motel. “We knew we wanted to do something interesting, maybe a garage, then the whole COVID thing came along.”
The new motel will have an entrance off Walcot Street and be located between Walcot and Blake streets, on the cul-de-sac across from the Tim Hortons drive-thru.
The pandemic threw a curve into a lot of people’s plans and it was no different for True North Builders. “We started pumping the brakes and decided to wait to see where everything was headed,” said Mr. Macaluso. But the mists of uncertainty have cleared somewhat on the road ahead and the motel project is back in play. The completion date for the new motel is set for 2023.
This will be the first motel project the duo has undertaken and the plan is for them to own and operate the business themselves. A retirement project? The pair laugh, “maybe someday a long way down the road,” said Mr. Macaluso. As of the present, the plan is for the motel to be an independent operation as opposed to a franchise or chain.
In the meantime, the partners have a couple of other four-plex plans in the works over the next construction season on lots they have purchased in the area.
The demand for accommodation on Manitoulin is strong. “About two seconds,” quips Mr. Macaluso when asked how long it took to fill the Vankoughnet Street four-plex.
While the four-plex being built on the Vankoughnet Street lot may have raised some eyebrows at the start, the simple truth is that the building meets all setback requirements. “Everything meets the setbacks,” confirmed Mr. Stephens. If one were to go to Sudbury and look at a lot of the single-family dwellings being built recently, they would see that the four-plex building’s footprint is roughly the same size.
The developers are Island born and raised and that local connection has really helped with establishing relationships with Island property owners—a good thing considering the challenges inherent in finding properties to develop in the current market.
“We have gone door-to-door to talk to people about whether they would be interested in selling,” said Mr. Stephens. “And we found that we were not the only ones doing that,” agreed Mr. Macaluso. “You have to be proactive with it,” he continued, “you can’t just sit and wait. So, the trust factor can be really important.”
With a tight housing market and the need for more housing in a community, one of the questions that often arise in interviewing developers is the local municipal atmosphere and red tape that they might encounter when pitching projects to local councils. The entrepreneurs said they have found Island municipalities generally supportive.
“Basically, the only red tape is finding building lots,” laughed Mr. Macaluso. “I think we have a good working relationship with town council.”