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Spring projects late in coming in North Bay.

North Bay is at the end of a busy period in major building projects, says Steve Sajatovic, the city's director of planning and development.

March was an extremely slow month, but there were only slightly fewer permits issued since January 1 than were issued during the same period between 1988 and 1990.

Sajatovic says spring projects are simply later coming on board and there are a number of them in the wings.

He expects that high levels of activity will continue this year in medium- and high-density residential construction by non-profit cooperative groups.

Sajatovic notes that between 400 and 450 of these units have been built each year in recent years. Meanwhile, he blames the recession and high interest rates for a decline in single and semi-detached home construction.

Harry Weiskopt, president of the North Bay and District Homebuilders Association, says there are hopes that things will change this summer, but there are no indicators as yet.

While lower interest rates and incentives such as the five-percent minimum downpayment encourage home buying, "people are obviously waiting to see if things get better," Weiskopt says.

In the meantime, however, the renovation side of the sector continues to be active.

By April 1 there were 49 permits issued for renovation projects valued at $1.4 million, compared to 44 permits during the same period last year representing $2.1 million worth of construction.

In all categories combined there were 83 permits issued for construction valued at $7.9 million, compared to 78 permits during the same period last year representing $13.3 million worth of work.

Institutional construction, which is cyclical, is waning, and Sajatovic does not expect much activity in this area this year.

Institutional projects constructed over the past few years have included a new Ministry of Government Services building, an Ontario Provincial Police communications office and the second phase of the separate school board's St. Joseph-Scollard Hall addition.

Institutional sector construction totalled $23.1 million in 1990, compared to only $6 million in 1991.

Sajatovic expects that the next major round of construction will be in the health-care field, with the start being either retooling of the city's joint hospital project or renovation of the two existing hospitals.

He says commercial real estate is in a downturn because of the general economy. Two major commercial projects, the Twin Pines Plaza and the first phase of the Algonquin Square project, have just been completed.

Last year there was $14 million worth of new commercial property and $7.2 million worth of additions, compared to $2.4 million new commercial and $4 million in additions in 1990.

There is a possibility that the second phase of Algonquin Square may come on board this year.

The restaurant industry is also coming off a building spurt, with the completion of a new McDonald's Restaurant on Algonquin Avenue and building projects by the Tim Horton's doughnut chain.

In the industrial sector there was $975,560 worth of new industrial building and $969,000 worth of additions last year, compared to slightly more than one million in each of those categories in 1990.

Algonquin Square builders forged ahead despite sluggish economy

Rudy Taus, a partner in the new Algonquin Square venture in North Bay does not recommend a recession as the time to start a major capital project.

Planning for the eight-store strip mall started two years before the recession when "triple-A" client leases were either secured or promising.

However, with the building being completed in a post-recession economy, it's not even a good time for the seemingly unshakeable triple-A group, says Taus, particularly with chains such as Bargain Harolds going into receivership.

Taus is a partner with his brother Rick, Paul Morin and Frank Orsi in the numbered-company project. The two Taus brothers and Morin are also joint owners of North Bay's Cortina Pizza, which has moved to the square.

The approximately $4.5-million building, completed last November, also contains a new Loebs store, as well as several smaller clients.

The general contractor for the project was Forest Gate Development, while the major sub-contractors included Allaire Electrical and Mechanical, Dom's Electric, Doma Construction, all of North Bay; Star Cement and Tile of Sudbury and Cardinal Steel Inc. of Brampton.

The partners decided to forge ahead with the 53,000-square-foot project in spite of the economy because of the money already invested in consultants, architects and engineers, says Taus.

There were already major leases signed, and the Cortina partners were anxious to move into new premises because the old property had been sold to McDonald's Restaurant.

They were confident of their location, just off the Algonquin Avenue corridor, because it is both a high-traffic area and one of the key expansion areas for new homes.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Construction Report; construction building projects
Author:Smith, Margie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Consumers responding to reduced minimum downpayment, says CMHC.
Next Article:Recycling venture receives funds.

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