Condo units all sold

The town’s involvement in the River Walk Condominium project on Front Street is nearing an end as all 32 units there have been sold.
But what the cost will be of having some unsold units sit vacant for two years remains to be seen, Mayor Dan Onichuk said Friday.
“It’s good news that the last unit will be closing by the end of July,” said the mayor, who also sits on the board of Fort Frances Non-profit Innovative Homes Inc.
“But after that, auditors will come in, do an audit, and see what the shortfall is. And in the end, the taxpayers will have to eat some of that shortfall,” he added.
This shortfall consists of a myriad of factors, said the mayor, ranging from “costs paid out on empty units by the town” to “small flaws that need to be corrected.”
While it’s difficult to say exactly what that shortfall will be, Mayor Onichuk expected it to be in the $250,000 range.
The audit should be completed later this summer and come back to council by the fall. After the shortfall is addressed by the town, Fort Frances Non-profit Innovative Homes Inc. will be dissolved.
The condominium will continue to be governed by its own board.
As part of the deal to build the condominiums in the first place, both the town and the developer—Penn-Co. Construction Canada Ltd.—agreed to each be financially responsible for selling a certain number of the 32 units.
Back in March, 2002, town council had stated it would not begin construction of the nearly 32-unit complex unless 75 percent of the condos (24) were pre-sold.
But with just 19 buyers signed on, the Fort Frances Non-profit Innovative Homes Inc. made a deal with Penn-Co. to take over responsibility for four of those units—leaving just one buyer needed to move into the construction phase.
At the last minute, the 20th buyer walked in with a deposit on April 3, 2002. Later that day, council agreed to go ahead with hiring Penn-Co.
Construction got underway that spring but as it neared completion in December, 2002, three buyers backed out—changing the magic number from 12 back up to 15.
Some condo owners began moving into their new homes in February, 2003, with more to follow later that year. More and more units were sold throughout 2003, with about 10 remaining as of December.
By April, 2004, that number was down to six. Three more sold that spring and summer, and by this past April, the magic number was three.
In the past couple months, another two were sold, with the final deal to close next month.
Recalling how the whole condominium venture began four years ago, condo resident Noreen Robertson, who also sits on the Fort Frances Non-profit Innovative Homes Inc. board, said this morning that “it’s very nice to see the project completed.”
Robertson, along with her husband, Cal, were among the first condo owners to move in. As such, they’ve had the experience of seeing their neighbours move in over the past two years, including some from Kenora, Windsor, and elsewhere.
“We’re very happy,” Robertson added, noting condo owners enjoy a good social life there.