July 16th, 2018

City ready to sell another chunk of land

By Collin Gallant on May 2, 2017.

A new apartment complex will likely be developed in Southlands at 280 Southlands Blvd. SE, council heard Monday.--NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT


cgallant@medicinehatnews.com
@CollinGallant

The hits just keep on coming for the city’s land and properties office and for sizable construction projects in the south end of town.

Monday’s city council meeting heard details made public of a conditional sale of 3.73 acres in Southlands for just more than $1 million. It appears a substantial apartment complex will built on the site at 280 Southlands Blvd., near the city’s community housing sites and beside the Catholic Board of Education school site.

It is added to a long list of high-profile projects in the city’s south end in the queue.

“It’s a great news story that land is selling in the downturn,” said Mayor Ted Clugston, adding that the city-developed community in the south end is getting closer to built-out designation.

“We’re about 80 per cent complete. This is a large piece … this could see the end of Southlands this year.”

The city’s land office cumulatively has contracts for 20 acres of commercial land in the area, for a total of $7.3 million. Administrators said recently only scattered single lots remain in the development, first imagined in the early 2000s.

“There’s a lot of activity and a lot of interest,” said development commissioner Stan Schwartzenberger. “I think that there has been a lot of money sitting on the sidelines for some time waiting for conditions to be right. Some investors are signalling that the time is right.”

The lot’s buyer, named as “Laurel Gardens Two” in council documents, will make a 10 per cent deposit within six months, then add another 10 per cent when the city planning department approves site and development plans before a November deadline.

The identity of the purchaser is not confirmed but “Lauren Gardens One” is a corporation in Edmonton that operates an apartment.

Its parent company, Vancouver Island-based Broadstreet Properties, did not return phone calls seeking comment on Monday.

The buyer is a developer, constructor and operator of apartment complexes, according to City chief administrator Merete Heggelund.

It is finishing a project in Lethbridge and needs some time allowance to “move down, set up in Medicine Hat and get underway.”

That in part is why timelines are extended, but by concession, the city has asked for an initial deposit of 20 per cent, rather than the usual 10.

Coun. Jamie McIntosh questioned why the city would tie up land for so long when the non-refundable portion of the deposit was only $1,000.

Clugston said he was prepared to accept the timelines if it meant a sale and new development.

“It’s been on the market for 10 years and this is the first bite,” he told council. Later he said it is a good sign that large, out-of-town firms are arranging land in the area.

“I don’t think we’ve seen this strong a commercial (development) market since 2006-2007 … These big players recognize there is stability in Medicine Hat.”

Unrelated to the city’s development wing, a new grocery store and a second hotel are slated for the area.

A large seniors’ living facility has been underway since the fall and Pope John Paul II School, next to the apartment lot, is well underway.

Canalta Hotels announced last week it would build a new hotel and mixed retail development on 17 acres.

Another major parcel in Southlands is the subject of a detached condo community plan by New Rock Developments.

Council approved this month a new price strategy for a final block of 13 residential lots. Those are essentially the final detached home lots in the area west of South Boundary Road.

The land department’s business plan calls for new work in Ranchlands this year and lots coming to market in late 2018, if conditions warrant.

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