By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On Chatham’s south side, things are hopping on Park Avenue.
A hive of construction is evident, as workers carry out a variety of tasks around the westside building of the Park Place complex, in a concerted effort to get things closed in before bad weather arrives.
Rob Piroli, of Piroli Group Developments, the company behind the new Park Place development, said 2021 has been a record-setting year for residential construction.
“I’ve watched the ups and downs of the market for the past 30 years,” the long-time developer explained. “This is the hottest market I’ve ever seen.”
The $90-million Park Place complex features two separate buildings that when complete will hold some 241 units.
Piroli said the Windsor-based company has received a warm welcome in Chatham-Kent, with older adults embracing what the company has to offer.
“Sales have been very good in Chatham,” he explained. “The baby boomers are really coming on board.
“Some people are snow birds,” Piroli noted of the development’s new tenants, explaining folks are looking for “worry-free living.”
The east section of Park Place began welcoming residents Oct. 1, with 104 of 121 leased at that time.
Piroli said new residents like what they find.
“It’s really nice to see the happiness of the people moving in,” he added.
Down the way at Maple City Homes, it’s a similar story. Robb Nelson, president of the four-year-old company, said the Chatham-Kent market is strong and lends support to the adage, “If you build it, they will come.”
The company is having its best year ever and was recently approved for a 17.6-acre development in south Chatham that will see the construction of an additional 121 single detached homes and 48 townhouse units in eight six-unit buildings.
The latest development is slated to begin in fall of 2022.
“We’re very, very happy with the way things are going in Chatham,” Nelson said, adding the company is tailoring development to market demand.
Maple City Homes is focusing on building units with a “smaller footprint,” Nelson said, adding there’s a lot of interest from buyers outside Chatham-Kent.
Nelson said Maple City offers homes with layouts similar to a condo, targeting people who want a smaller living space, but who don’t want to live in a building.
While a large portion of Maple City’s customer base is the local aging community, the company is also responding to first-time buyers entering the market.
All-told Maple City has delivered 250 homes to the Chatham-Kent market so far, with 70 homes currently under construction.
The spin-off from local builds is significant, with Maple City injecting about $70-million into the community annually.
“We’re over the moon with the support we’ve received,” Nelson said, noting the company works with 47 different trade groups, employing between 200 to 250 people per day.
People from the GTA and workers in the greenhouse industry are among the people interested in relocating to the municipality. The new housing is also attracting young professionals and workers in the trades.
“We have a lot of diverse groups,” he added. “People love the lifestyle of Chatham-Kent.”
Both Piroli and Nelson say they plan to expand as more land becomes available. Nelson said Maple City will continue its growth in the Blenheim market, adding the company is currently looking at the Wallaceburg market as well.