Developer interest low for downtown revitalization project
The city is struggling to get developers interested in its ambitious plan to revitalize Edmonton's downtown east side.
The plan, known as The Quarters, is supposed to turn the rundown downtown area east of 97th Street and Jasper Avenue into a vibrant urban setting with shops, restaurants and homes for thousands of people.
But a downturn in the economy and a glut of condominium projects in Edmonton has dampened enthusiasm for the project.
Development company Vinterra Properties has put its plans for a 14-storey, 80-unit condominium on hold because of the slowdown in the housing market.
"There's a fair amount of inventory that's still yet to come over the next two years and ... we want to make sure that we are positioned so that we can be competitive," said Steve Zosky, marketing manager for the company.
Other developers with projects that are already underway in the area have had to fight perceptions fueled by the area's bad reputation.
Natasha Stenzel has almost finished the redevelopment of her 64-unit building. She said it's been difficult selling units because appraisers aren't valuing the properties very high.
"They have not been kind, and they've been harsh," she said. "We've had to sell almost every unit three times."
Walter Tronceko, project manager for The Quarters, admits the economic downturn is hampering the initiative and acknowledges the city might need to do more to attract investors.
"We need to look at ways to spark some reinvestment into the Quarters even given the tough situation that we find ourselves in," he said.
Mayor Stephen Mandel has asked city staff to look at what kinds of incentives might work.