SUDBURY -- Help will soon be provided to Greater Sudbury's beleaguered vacancy rate as Montreal-developer Jack Wolofsky prepares for the next steps in his beloved Project Manitou.

A plan is in the works to build two 17-storey high rises behind Wolofsky's current building, Cherry Gardens, behind Brady Square.

The development would mean the creation of 826 new units, 248 of them will be for affordable housing, while 476 low-cost units will be set aside for seniors.

"It's been about two years of hard work to date. We've done a lot of work with the city, we had a lot of zoning issues to partner on, as well as development charges," said project consultant Todd Robson. "We had to find a compromise with the city on that and now we're just working with the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) to secure the financing."

Robson said Project Manitou would be a legacy project for Wolofsky, who wants to make the building as environmentally friendly as possible.

"Mr. Wolofsky is a very passionate environmentalist. He wants this to be a legacy piece and he's striving for a 'net-zero' outcome, so any of the energy that is used he wants produced on-site," said Robson.

They are looking at all sort of different types of power generation, including solar, for the complex. It'll have a gym, pool and clinic on-site for any medical needs.

The project is expected to help with net-migration in the downtown core, where the city is still planning to build a library, an art space and a convention centre.

With a vacancy rate of only 2.5 per cent, finding space in a traditionally-tight rental market has proven to be difficult in the past for many in Sudbury.

It's one of the largest projects of its kind in recent memory to have been built in the city.

"We haven't seen an apartment block of this size ever in Sudbury," Ward 11 Councillor Bill Leduc said. "The last apartment block that I can think of was on Regent Street and that was back in the 80s."

The city is expected to lose about $1-million in development charges, but it'll accrue more than $2-million in annual taxes.

"This project is huge for Sudbury, with the library-art gallery going downtown and now this project, which is between $160 - $180-million. This is really going to transform the city," Leduc said. "You're going to be able to see this building from Lasalle, Notre Dame, Paris Street. This is going to stand out."

The complex will also have a library on site.

Robson said they've gotten support from various other levels of government and they are hoping to break ground on Project Manitou in September.