Penn Terra Group Ltd. develops affordable student housing, transforming and revitalizing downtown St. Catharines


The GTA Construction Report Special Feature

Penn Terra Group Ltd. is helping transform downtown St. Catharines with residential properties that will bring people to the revitalized core. The company’s latest efforts involve two student focused housing projects constructed by Accel Construction Management Ltd. on former parking lots.

Penn Terra CFO John Kingston says the two locations, on Lake and James streets, have been purpose-built for student housing. The combination of two, three and four bedroom self-contained units created 258 beds at the seven-storey Lake St. project and 210 beds on James St. Both buildings were occupied in time for the fall 2016 school start.

Amenities have also been designed for students, including a gym, common areas and study spaces. “The four-bedroom units have two bathrooms, their own laundry and a full kitchen.”

A main floor retail space has been designated in each of the buildings, though Kingston says these areas are yet to be filled, pending municipal approval.

While apartment design, especially for students, often focuses on durability, Kingston says attention was paid to making the space comfortable and homey, rather than institutional. Stone cladding on the main level of the L-shaped buildings blends the new apartments with existing buildings on the street, while cladding in a variety of colours hints at the residential tenants inside.

Kingston says both Accel and Pivotal Project Management proved to be excellent project partners, being very efficient and transparent throughout the process.

In addition to student housing Penn Terra is also looking at other under-served markets, including affordable housing, Kingston said. “We were concerned about creating a product that combines both quality and affordability. Our partner, First Ontario Credit Union has been working closely with us on this. With their strong community focus and innovative approach, we believe that we will be able to make this happen.”

For more information about Penn Terra Group, visit


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