City boasts growing interest in condominiums

Tyler Clarke
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A pile driver operates in the Lake Estates area on Tuesday, during which it helped prepare the foundation for Lakes Edge Condominiums -- a 24-unit building at 2800 Lakeview Drive. 

A lifestyle choice drove Coun. Rick Orr and his wife Kathy’s decision to purchase a condominium unit. 

“We’ve got grandkids -- all our kids are grown and moved away, and it was a great way for us to just lock the doors and walk away and not worry about things,” Rick explained.

If Rick and Kathy were looking at condos today, the wealth of choices would have been much greater, with the condominium market exploding in recent years.

Amid city council’s constant stream of condominium proposals will be a 22-unith high rise condominium building at 2761 Woodbridge Drive, up for a public hearing at Monday’s meeting.

Last month, piles were driven into the ground for a 24-unit condominium building at the Lake Estates development just south of the project up for debate on Monday.

A month before that, council granted approval for a 94-unit seniors’ condominium-style development at 19 Guy Drive.

At the corner of 15th Avenue East and 15th Street, a 63-unit condominium building re-started construction earlier this year after a delay.

And there’s much more on the horizon, city manager Jim Toye suggested.

“We have had some developers come to us and are looking at different options regarding additional condos that could be built, but some of those are very preliminary dialogue with them right now,” he relayed on Friday.

“There certainly is a huge interest in condominiums.”

It’s a bit of a delayed interest, Advantage Real Estate Services Inc. owner Duane Braaten said, noting that until recently they were viewed as a “big-city concept.”

“I think the community as a whole is accepting and enjoying condo living,” he said.

“We’ve matured to that level where there’s enough confidence that builders continue to build and lenders continue to lend, and that’s an awesome scenario.”

We’ve got grandkids -- all our kids are grown and moved away, and it was a great way for us to just lock the doors and walk away and not worry about things. Rick Orr

Orr is of the belief that Prince Albert’s lagging interest in condominium is in part due to the large social housing projects the government built in the ’60s and ’70s.

“All the seniors housing downtown did away with a lot of the need for condominium developments,” he surmised.

“In the last 10 or 15 years it’s become a lot more popular, because the baby boomers aren’t interested in climbing stairs and they don’t probably need as large a house as they used to, so they’re looking at condos as an opportunity.”

Condos are an economic boon to the city, Toye said, noting that with greater density comes a lessened municipal infrastructure investment and a greater tax base.

“If you look at some of the big cities, they’ve got lots that are 25 or 33-foot frontage, and so that’s very dense -- especially in their downtown and areas that have been there for a while,” he said.

“Traditionally, ours are 50 … and a lot of developers want to tighten those up a bit.”

There doesn’t seem to be anything slowing down the local condominium market, Braaten suggested.

“Everybody things we’re overpopulated with them, but they get built and they get occupied and people moved into them, so that’s a good thing,” he said.

“I think it’s a quality of life decision and a lot of people have been embracing it. I think the number of new buildings is indicative of that.”

Organizations: Advantage Real Estate Services, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Lake Estates, 15th Avenue East, 15th Street

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