Erin Crescent lot prices dropping

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Council aims to bring lots in line with market value

Fort Frances council approved the recommendation to sell the 27 lots on Erin Crescent for a cheaper price tag than what had originally been advertised.

This item was recommended during the last Planning and Executive Committee meeting when municipal clerk, Lisa Slomke, said the lot prices were not competitive with the local market.

“I have been tracking market conditions since way back when I was selling the Huffman Court lots,” Slomke said. “I know what they have sold for and I know what people are trying to sell them for. We wanted to be somewhere in the middle, not the lowest but certainly not the highest, which I believe we were.”

When council set the lot rates in February of 2020, they needed to make sure two aspects were addressed: that the town, not taxpayers, covered the cost of developing Erin Crescent while keeping the biggest two lots at a sellable price.

Because the town was able to use money from the federal gas tax money in the 2021 Capital Budget for roadworks, Slomke said, they were able to bring the price down to $70.55 per square metre, as opposed to the original $98.33 per square metre for all lots except 10 and 20.

After the amendment of the lot prices, lots 10 and 20 will be up for sale at $60 per square metre, previously $80 per square metre, adding to a total of $82,800 for lot 10 and $86,400 for lot 20.

“I discussed it with [Travis Rob], operations and facilities manager, because he’s tracked the budget of the project since it falls under his division. He knew that some installation work had come in less than what we had originally budgeted.”

Slomke said she then reached out to a local realtor and they told her that they were confident that the new prices they were proposing were very marketable.

The approval of this recommendation will now have 12 lots that are below $50,000 as a starting price.

The lots in Huffman Court were between $39,000 and $65,000. Four lots on Erin Crescent will be more than $65,000.

Under the original lots prices, it was projected that the town see $1.9 million in sales. After the adjustment to the lot prices, the town will get about $1.4 million.

Along with the decreased lot prices, Slomke said they will also grant the right to potential buyers to have an additional two-year building window, provided they make the request within the five-year building time.

“It’ll be written into an amended agreement of purchase and sale that they have that option of a two year extension. It’s not just going to be on my say or somebody else’s. It’s going to be in writing.”

The vote to approve the decrease in price was not unanimous. Coun.Rick Wiedenhoeft voted against the recommendation.

Wiedenhoeft said that even with the decreased prices, he think the prices are still too high.

“My personal feeling is that these prices are still too high,” Wiedenhoeft said. “I understand the cost recovery position of the Planning and Development Executive Committee, but I believe that cost recovery can come in the form of taxes for years to come. Just look at Huffman Court and amount of tax revenue we get from our houses.”

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assesses each property after its development to determine the property tax value. If MPAC assesses a property to be worth $300,000, its owners would pay about $5,800 in property taxes, according to the 2020 residential tax factor.