Condo sales start to look up

After a lull in sales for well over six months, the River Walk Condominiums are seeing some new tenants—with firm leads on buyers for four more units just in the past month.
“It’s ongoing. We have had offers on some, we have other people who are interested but want to wait until after Christmas,” said Noreen Robertson, a member of the Fort Frances Non-Profit Innovative Homes Inc. board.
“We’re very happy with the way things are going,” she added. “I wouldn’t want to put a time limit on it, but the mayor [Glenn Witherspoon] said the other night [at the town appreciation dinner], they’ll be sold in the next two years.
“And I’d agree with that.”
“We’re feeling very positive about the year ahead,” echoed acting Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig. “There seems to be a renewed focus on the board as far as marketing goes.
“A lot of the credit to the new sales goes to the condo owners,” he noted. “Some of the ladies—Noreen Robertson, Betty McLeod, Betty Fontana—have been very involved in the sales of the units.
“They’ve been informing people on the benefits of owning a condo.”
Robertson said they’ve not only been advertising the condos with local realtors, but elsewhere in Canada and the United States. In fact, some of the most recent condo owners have been from out of town.
“And people from out of town means new taxpayers,” she remarked.
If the current leads go through, that will leave 10 of the total of 32 condo units still to be sold.
As part of the deal to build the condominiums in the first place, both the town and developer—Penn-co Construction Canada Ltd.—agreed to each be financially responsible for selling a certain number of units.
But this past spring, the town and Penn-co struck a deal to “pool” the 15 units still unsold at that time, meaning the parties will not be in direct competition to sell the units for which they’re responsible.
Given there’s been much debate, particularly during the recent municipal election campaign, over the whether the town should ever have been involved in such a commercial venture in the first place, Robertson said the negative press has hurt the River Walk Condominiums’ image.
But she remains confident local taxpayers will learn to see the building as a beneficial addition to the town. “I don’t think they [the nay-sayers] really understand it all. It really isn’t costing the town anything,” she stressed.
Robertson noted those who hold a negative opinion of the condos should recall the history which led to the construction of the building.
Several years ago, a decision was made to explore the feasibility of building a condominium here. Such a building and lifestyle were successes in many communities similar to Fort Frances and public meetings indicated support for the project, she said.
In addition to making the condo facilities available to Fort Frances residents, the public supported the fact that the project would turn vacant property—generating relatively little tax revenue—into 32 residential properties paying full tax revenues to the town, added Robertson.
She said the River Walk Condominiums are self-supported by the owners. Each time a unit is sold, the mortgage is reduced, mortgage interest decreases, and the new owner takes over the monthly maintenance fee and becomes a new town taxpayer.
  And to date, she has not heard any regrets from any of the owners who have moved in there.
“Hopefully, the incoming mayor and council will join with us in promoting the sale of the remaining units so that the building will be recognized as the asset to the town that it is,” Robertson remarked.
(Fort Frances Times)