New Brunswick

27-year-old credits PMV Canada for leap into Saint John development business

As Fredericton-based PMV Canada makes its final withdrawal from Saint John's rental housing market, Adam Pottle has nothing but fond thoughts of the company.

Adam Pottle bought 3 PMV Canada properties for $107K

Adam Pottle stands in front of his four-unit heritage building. (Connell Smith, CBC)

As Fredericton-based PMV Canada makes its final withdrawal from Saint John's rental housing market, Adam Pottle has nothing but fond thoughts of the company.

"To the PMV people, honestly, thanks," said Pottle.

The 27-year-old landlord credits the often discredited company with getting him into the development business.

Just over a year ago he'd never been a homeowner.

But today Pottle owns a four-unit building in the Orange Street Heritage District. His own apartment has a spectacular view of the Bay of Fundy, while tenants in the three other newly renovated units pay his mortgage and expenses.

"It's absolutely an income property [and] without that excessive a mortgage on it either," he said. "It definitely turns a profit every month. It's clean, it's dry, everything's freshly redone."

PMV arrived in Saint John in a big way in 2016, buying up dozens of older wood frame apartment houses in a bankruptcy sale.

At the time, the company promised to renovate many of the buildings and demolish a handful that were in poor condition.

Pottle swapped out kitchens and windows, and added new floors. His tenants now cover the mortgage and other expenses. (Connell Smith, CBC)

But while the company did renovation work on some of its more profitable rental properties, others were left vacant and dilapidated.

Municipal bylaw enforcement staff eventually moved in. City councillors later approved demolition of at least eight PMV buildings before the company decided to pull up stakes.

With PMV's retreat underway, Pottle purchased three properties from the company. They include, his own building at 147 Orange St., the two units next door at 151, and an empty building lot at 153.

The total cost was $107,000.

He flipped the building at 151 for $20,000 to a Toronto owner who, he says, is planning to renovate it. He then listed the empty lot for $39,000.

But the renovation of the four-unit was a challenge. There were broken windows. Someone had been squatting in the building. There were hundreds of used needles. And the floor of another unit was covered in Warfarin blocks to control rodents.

Five dumpster loads, mostly containing junk, were hauled to the landfill.

PMV Canada purchased dozens of Saint John properties but is in the process of retreating from the city. (CBC)

On the plus side, said Pottle, the previous owner had made a good start on some important upgrades.

"PMV had actually taken care of a lot of the electrical, and they had modernized the plumbing. So a lot of stuff had been done, but things weren't necessarily connected to the right unit."

Pottle hired a contractor to swap out windows, renovate kitchens and replace floors, and rebuild the front entrance. Finding tenants was surprisingly easy as each unit became available.

The experience has fostered a love for heritage development in him. Pottle is now eyeing another central peninsula multi-unit.

Now he's urging other Saint Johners to get involved in the business.

"People need to realize it's not that hard. I'm not a wealthy guy," he said. "I've got a normal, average-paying desk job and I was able to go into the bank and put a case together."

About the Author

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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