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Developers confident in condominium market.

Condominium development in Thunder Bay is complex, to say the least.

There are many players and many opinions, as well as a lot of money riding on the future of Thunder Bay's condo market.

However, with three major condo projects opening next year, 1992 may provide a good idea of what is to come. The current construction activity is the most Thunder Bay has ever experienced.

"The three new projects will give us another 200 condo units. That means a 20- to 25-per-cent expansion of condo development this year," says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) analyst Robin Wiebe. "It suggests a healthy market, but it's still an open question."

The developers, on the other hand, are confident that they will succeed.

SIGNATURE COURT

Developer John Kauzlarick of Kauzlarick Business Trust is pleased with sales at Signature Court, his first condo project in Thunder Bay.

Kauzlarick's companies have constructed several thousand housing units across Canada, as well as office buildings, hotels, shopping centres, apartment buildings and condominiums in Canada and the U.S.

Signature Court is scheduled to open next summer, and Kauzlarick says three-quarters of the 36 units (between $93,000 and $145,000 each) are already sold. Believing that Thunder Bay now accepts the benefits of condo living, Kauzlarick attributes the success of Signature Court to timing and quality.

"We've been building since 1954, and although we do our thing very low-key, when we do it...we do it well."

BOULEVARD PARK

Thunder Bay's second condo development, Boulevard Park Place, is a joint effort of Robert Zanette and A.J. Wing & Sons Construction Ltd. It is Zanette's fifth condo project in Thunder Bay, but his first joint venture.

Zanette began in 1987 with Parkwest Meadows One, followed by Parkwest Two and Three, for a total of 104 units in the city's south end.

He admits that the market today is too complex for one person to handle an entire development.

"I've seen this market change like night to day. In the beginning condos were like gold. Today the public is better condo-educated and they demand more," he says.

Zanette says he can offer the public a better product by splitting responsibilities with Wing.

"Our philosophy is let the builder do what he does best, and let the developer do his end. This way, we can do it better together as a team."

Zanette has planned to develop one condominium per year for the next five years, based on what he believes the market can absorb.

"We think Thunder Bay can absorb one, maybe even two, condo projects per year," he says. "But someone will suffer with three in one year. We have confidence in what we're doing, and ultimately I think it's survival of the fittest."

"We have a real cross-section of buyers from young couples to professionals to seniors, and our goals are to establish a great service record with the public and offer tenant flexibility."

The Boulevard Park three-storey condo is scheduled to open next May. Zanette reports that he has 65 per cent of the 72 units sold. Zanette's condos are priced at less than $100,000 each.

ROYAL PARK

Regency Park Developments is building its first condo development, Royal Park Place, near the Harbour Expressway. The first phase of the luxury condo, 96 units, will be completed by late spring.

The more expensive units, priced between $109,000 and $175,000 each, will feature state-of-the-art security systems with card access, and soundproof, fireproof walls, among other extras.

Ray Belluz of Belluz Realty says 30 per cent of the condos were sold before the model showroom was built.

"This is the first condo project in Thunder Bay to build an on-site display model, and the response to it has been overwhelming," says Belluz. "We are offering a deluxe unit which takes a little longer to sell, but we firmly believe Thunder Bay can absorb all three developments this year because they all appeal to different markets in three different locations."

Belluz believes Regency Park Developments will have no problem selling half the units to meet its financing requirements.

"When we first started marketing this project a year and a half ago, sales took off." Belluz continues. "We did experience a lull when the Winnipeg pre-cast wall and floor supplier went on strike. But now, with the full-scale model showroom, we can't keep up with the response."

MAPLECREST

Meanwhile, realtor Jim McKenzie doubts that the Thunder Bay market can absorb many more luxury condominium units.

"I think there is a very limited market for luxury condos here. In my experience, many condo buyers are older Thunder Bay residents looking for a maintenance-free place to come for the summers if they go south. Many don't want to dig too far into their retirement accounts to buy a condo," he explains.

McKenzie was the realtor for Maplecrest Towers, a project which was completed in late 1988 and sold out early this year.

Although 80 per cent of the 100 luxury units were sold upon completion, McKenzie admits that selling the last 20 per cent proved difficult.

"It did take four years to sell out, but the condos are higher priced, between $130,000 and $220,000," he explains.

However, McKenzie stands behind Maplecrest Towers as a good long-term investment.

"It's really one of the first luxury condos in Thunder Bay, and although it wasn't an easy sell, the buyers are very satisfied with the value."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus on Thunder Bay; real estate developers
Author:Rapino, Robin
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:907
Previous Article:First phase of expansion is under way.
Next Article:Waterfront connection promises to inject life into city's south core.
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