Sudbury home buyers still 'experimenting' with condominiums
Some developers are waiting for the economy to improve before starting construction
Developer Dalron started work on converting an office building on Larch Street downtown a few years ago. It had planned to finish the units after they were sold, but slow sales saw all 12 completed before they had an owner.
Sales agent Joanne Belanger said three of the $279,000 units are still empty.
"Condos in general are a little different for Sudbury. We're still doing some experimenting," she said.
When the real estate market was at its height during the mineral price boom about 10 years ago, J. Corsi Developments dove head first into the condominium business and built a 31-unit building across the street from its Corsi Hill subdivision.
But project manager Paul Corsi said price tags between $325,000 and $450,000 scared off many buyers. He said his company was forced to lease out about half of the units, although many renters end up buying.
"I think the next one we're going to try to keep it a little lower, under the $300,000 mark, because I think that was the main reason we weren't getting any action on the building," said Corsi.
That next one is a 60-unit building off Long Lake Road, which he expects will sell well given the prime location near Four Corners shopping.
The most prominent condo project in the city is by far the plan to convert the old General Hospital off Paris Street into 210 condominium units.
In 2012, Panoramic Properties got city council approval for the project and parts of the old hospital have been demolished, but other than that there are few signs of progress from the outside.
"It looks like it's sitting still, but there's a lot of work going on in behind the scenes," said architect Michael Allen. "Getting the drawings completed, getting the building cleaned out. Yeah, there's still things moving with it."
Market conditions 'just aren't there yet'
Allen said reaching a site plan agreement with the city took longer than expected, but said it was a good process and was pleased that both sides wanted to "see it done right."
He said his company hopes to begin construction on a new wing for the old hospital building, including underground parking, next spring.
But Allen said it's too early to discuss how the condo units will be priced or configured, but did say about 100 people have put their name on a list expressing interest in living in the old hospital.
Montreal developer Bryan Wolofsky got approval from city council in 2011 to build three 17-storey apartment towers off Van Horne Street overlooking the downtown.
But he said the market conditions just aren't there yet to start building.
"I'm trying to do a Toronto-Montreal-New York condo project in Sudbury. Something like that only works when the economy is strong," Wolofsky said.