Developer sees optimism despite flat housing market

By Charlene Tebbutt
August 8, 2018 - 5:00pm Updated: August 9, 2018 - 8:44am

Despite a slowdown in the local new housing market that has seen permits for single family units dwindle to a trickle, at least one developer has confidence that new multi-family developments in Prince Albert will be a hit with existing and first-time home buyers.

Josh Remai with Span West Developments said confidence in the housing market has waned, but there are still opportunities in Prince Albert. Remai is behind the Woodbridge Terrace condo project, the third phase of new housing developments in the city’s West Hill area. Construction on a new four-storey, 24-unit condo development started about three weeks ago.

Remai said units in the two other developments in Woodbridge have sold, hence the need for more development.

“The economy is still growing, it’s just growing at a slower pace,” Remai told paNOW. “They (buyers) have some concerns about the economy, where it sits and will they be able to sell their house (but) homes are still selling in Prince Albert, people are still moving here and there’s still jobs in Prince Albert.”

Ward 8 City Councillor Ted Zurakowski said the West Hill area is an attractive neighbourhood for home buyers and offers a mix of housing options for all types of families that is also close to shopping and other amenities.

“The two condo buildings we have here weren’t here five years ago, and this is the place that residents want to be, they want to be close to the hospital, they want to be in a newer development and it’s nice to see the developer moving forward with confidence,” Zurakowski said. “This is a good thing for Prince Albert and it’s nice to see some construction going on.”  

The project has a building permit value of around $3.3 million, and Remai said their total investment including land was around $6 million. He added the new development will provide work for 60 to 70 people, including contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other tradespeople. Units in the new Woodbridge Terrace development are expected to be available by the spring of 2019.

Another permit for a six-plex for people with mental health issues was also approved by the city last month for almost $900,000, taking the total permitted value for new multi-family builds for the first seven months of the year to $4.2 million. That's actually a big increase over 2017, but still some way off the $7 million by July of 2016.

Things are even slower on the single family home front.

The latest statistics from the city of P.A. show there was just one new single-family housing permit issued in July, with a value of $372,000. Compared to last year, total permits for new builds as well as alterations and additions for the first seven months of 2018 are down $2 million at $3.8 million. There have been 10 permits issued for new builds so far this year. That's a far cry from the bouyant construction period in 2013 when the figure for single family home construction and alterations was at almost $16 million. It has steadily declined since.

In the rural areas the latest figures appeared similar. In the RM of Prince Albert permits for five new homes had been issued so far in 2018 , while six were issued in the RM of Buckland year-to-date.

The city of Prince Albert's director of planning and development services said since the boom of 2013, the construction of single family homes had slowed but multi-family units kept ticking along.

"Actually last year to this year they've been on the rise and between commercial and multi unit that's been making up the difference for us," Craig Guidinger told paNOW. 

He added the city took advantage of promoting construction "through incentive programs, price reductions and finding different ways to bolster development," and he was confident that opportunities would still be created.

"I hope we turn a corner and I think there is room for optimism and over the next few years I'm optimistic there'll be an upward trend," Guidinger said.


With files from Glenn Hicks

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On Twitter: @charlenetebbutt

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