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Construction levels maintained despite the slowdown nationally.

Construction levels maintained despite the slowdown nationally

Rolf Vossbotn, chief building official for the City of North Bay, says North Bay has managed to escape the economic slowdown which is slowing building starts across the nation.

Although the local construction and building supply industries have predicted that the effects of a slowdown will be felt soon, Vossbotn could not determine when it will occur.

"We haven't seen it yet, but it is coming," he commented.

The building official claimed that the construction industry in the city has traditionally been stable, remaining unaffected by changes in the national economy.

He speculated that large, stable employers such as the military, a college and a university, coupled with a diverse economy have strengthened the local economy to the point where it can withstand national downturns.

"We are not a single- or double-industry town; rather we have a varied assortment of all types of industries," and Vossbotn.

He said over the past few years it has been the industrial and commercial sectors which have accounted for much of the construction in and around the city. However, this year the emphasis has shifted to the residential sector.

Another factor which is maintaining construction levels in North Bay is the "fair amount of institutional work that is currently going on in the city."

Vossbotn said additions to both Nipissing University College and Canadore College, as well as the recent construction start of a senior citizens' apartment complex, have "amounted to a substantial amount of money."

Construction started on the 75-apartment senior citizens complex on Olive Street in early July.

The $6-million project is financed under the province's Homes Now program and is sponsored by Castle Arms Non-Profit Apartment Corp.

The capital cost of the complex is being met by a 19.5-year mortgage from the Ontario Housing Corporation which obtains the funds for Homes Now from the Canada Pension Plan.


Vossbotn reported that the number of permits issued by the city's building department had decreased to 538 permits worth $42.5 million by August, from 573 permits worth $43.5 million issued during the same period last year.

"The value hasn't changed dramatically, but the number of permits issued is down," commented the chief building official.

Vossbotn reported that after North Bay's construction level hit the record high of approximately $90 million last year, it was forecast that the market would subside dramatically.

The city official explained that North Bay did budget for a slowdown, estimating that construction in 1990 would total about $55 million.

According to Vossbotn, the figures to date indicate that the total "won't exceed the number by very much."

However, Vossbotn points out that there are several planned and pending big-ticket construction projects.

Vossbotn said that developers such as John Knifton of London, Ont. continue to see North Bay as a stable market.


With one finished shopping centre, a second being expanded and a third under construction in North Bay, Knifton, owner of Plaza One Developments Corp., announced that his firm will construct a fourth plaza.

The latest project is a 22,000-square-foot plaza to be built at the corner of Sherriff and Algonquin avenues, currently the site of the Prmieau Argo building which, along with the Standard Industries building, is slated for demolition.

Plaza One Developments completed construction of the first phase of Century Centre and initiated construction of the second phase this summer. The 64,000-square-foot combined retail and office complex will house a Golden Griddle restaurant and a Valdi's food store. All of the retail space has been leased, as well as 70 per cent of the office space.

In a published report, Knifton said that the intention behind phase two was to attract more retail firms to North Bay.

Construction of Twin Pines Centre on Trout Lake Road was slated for completion last month. The plaza will house a 30,000-square-foot Food City outlet and other stores.

Century Centre, Twin Pines and a completed plaza located on Lakeshore Drive represent a $15-million investment in North Bay by the company over the past three years.

In the same report Knifton was quoted as saying that North Bay has proven to be a strong retail market compared with other places in Ontario.


North Bay Real Estate Board figures indicate that the local real estate market is performing better than the national average.

"We certainly are not as bad as Toronto and Vancouver," said Maxine Foster, president of the North Bay Real Estate Board.

Foster said residential sales in North Bay decreased for the first time in July. She attributed the 33-per-cent decline from July 1989 to high interest rates.

Foster said that healthy sales recorded during the first half of 1990 have allowed the market in North Bay to remain stable. In fact, said Foster, the downturn came after the month of June, "when the rates started to climb."

Residential sales during the month of June remained stable despite a 28.9-per-cent decrease nationally.

Foster said local housing prices are following the national trend. Hottest sellers are in the $90 - $120,000 price range.
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Title Annotation:North Bay Report
Author:McDougall, Douglas
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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