City ready to unload Motorways properties

The city is about to cash in on its waterfront investments. After spending $3.5 million to buy the Motorways yard between Black Street and Shipyards…

The city is about to cash in on its waterfront investments.

After spending $3.5 million to buy the Motorways yard between Black Street and Shipyards Park in 1995, municipal authorities are getting ready to sell, said city manager Dennis Shewfelt at Monday night’s council meeting.

Shewfelt introduced a draft land-disposition policy at the meeting. It outlines how the city could sell off the asset, which has also undergone extensive environmental cleanup.

“The purpose of this policy is to provide direction of how these parcels will be disposed of,” said Shewfelt.

Money will not be the driving factor in the sale, he said.

“Price is not the sole determinant of this case … council has been very clear in setting out a vision for this area.”

The sale will involve a bidding process whereby council decides which contractors’ proposals best fit the city’s vision for the waterfront, according to the draft policy.

“The height limitation in the area is three storeys with a blend of commercial residential uses in mixed-use buildings.

“The proposed development (by contractors bidding on the properties) will have to respect the design guidelines in place to ensure that the scale of development is in keeping with the conceptual plan that calls for a pedestrian oriented development.”

The sale of the lots will be staggered so as not to flood the market and have a “negative” impact on property prices, said Shewfelt.

“If we were to introduce all of the lots at once it could have a negative impact, not only on those lots but for other lots in the city as well.”

The plan is to first introduce five of the 13 lots the city will be selling in a first round of sales, with the remaining properties to be sold in a second round.

The first round of properties will be land that borders Second Avenue, said Shewfelt.

One city-owned lot will be held in reserve to provide space for a fire hall should council wish to build one at that location, he said.

Other parcels in the area are already spoken for.

The city sold one parcel to the Yukon government. That land went to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation during land claims.

“Two (other) parcels went to the YTG for the city’s commitment to the athletes’ village for the Canada Winter Games,” said Shewfelt.

Currently, the city is having appraisals done on the properties to determine what their market values are.

The last time the properties were appraised was about four years ago, said Shewfelt.

“We will have an appraisal done to see what the market values of the properties are,” he said.

In the past six years, housing prices in the city have risen 99 per cent, according to the Yukon bureau of statistics.

The average spike in commercial properties is more difficult to determine, said the bureau’s Gary Brown.

“Basically a house is a house. With commercial sales, it involves anything from an empty lot all the way up to the sale of the Gold Rush Inn, and that was like $5 million.”

When the Motorways lots are sold, developers will have to pay up front and complete their developments within a two-year time frame, said Shewfelt.

The city will withhold title to the property until the development is completed, which will ensure the area is used in line with council’s vision, he said.

Consultation with prospective buyers will be held in early February with information on prospective developments coming before council by about the middle of March, added Shewfelt.

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