Cost-cutting changes condo plans

Just as in the creation of most dream homes, financial reality has forced some changes in plans for the construction of the River Walk condominium project on Front Street.
Buyers were to hear Wednesday afternoon how their suite in the 32-unit complex was altered to bring down the cost—and find out the price tag for their new home.
For the past month, project managers have been in talks with Winnipeg developer Penn-Co. Construction Corp. to bring down their original bid from $4.4 million to $3.9 million.
“It was an onerous task,” Fort Frances CAO Bill Naturkach admitted Monday. “But we now have a reputable builder ready to go with a price we believe is fair.”
Part of the discussions to bring down the price of the units, now slated at between $140,400-$156,776, involved changing some of the materials included in the original plans.
“The issues that we made sure of was that the quality of the project remains untouched,” Naturkach stressed.
“The sound-proofing is still the quality it needs to be. The square footage of the units is still there,” he noted. “From the buyers’ point of view, there’s really no change in the units.”
But some compromises had to be made, such as replacing metal windows with vinyl clad ones.
“Ironic as it sounds, metal windows are cold, vinyl clad ones will not be cold. It’s a better product for less money,” Naturkach argued, adding vinyl windows were the current industry standard.
But he did concede that their unlike metal counterparts, vinyl windows won’t last quite as long.
“We can’t afford that ultimate level, it was just too pricey,” he said.
And Naturkach isn’t too worried these changes will make buyers back out of the project.
“We’ve said all along it was subject to what bids we do get in terms of price and value,” he remarked. “We are still very firm that the quality is still there.”
Naturkach also stands by the price for the development, which now stands at $4,778,500 when construction costs, land purchase, and all extra fees are included—four percent higher than expected.
“We’re not afraid to stand in front of the group and explain the facts. We finally have a construction bid in our hands,” he said.
Now that an acceptable price has been negotiated, the housing committee has one final hurdle to jump before it can sign the contract and construction can begin—finding more buyers.
The committee said they wanted to have 75 percent of the units pre-sold before signing contracts with any developers. That means they need commitments from 24 buyers. At the moment, they only have 19.
“The numbers have been up and down over the life of the project, like a yo-yo,” Naturkach said. “Unfortunately at this date, the numbers are where they are, which is a low level.”
Project managers also must convert the agreements signed by the 19 current buyers, which include a $3,000 fee to essentially reserve a unit, into more formal agreements and obtain the remainder of the $10,000 downpayment.
“We need the fence-sitters out there to make a commitment because the project is contingent upon us getting those numbers,” Naturkach stressed.
Buyers are begin given until 4:30 p.m. on March 15 to offer their downpayment and receive the purchase price without the realty fees, which are estimated at up to $4,700.