Living down by the river

If all goes as planned this summer a new condo development will be built on the bank of the Yukon River.

If all goes as planned this summer a new condo development will be built on the bank of the Yukon River.

“It’s been a dream of many people in this town to see the waterfront developed,” said Piers McDonald, Northern Vision Development’s board chair.

River’s Reach, the four storey, 20-unit condo building is already nearly half sold.

“We plan to move ahead with construction in early May once we have sold 60 per cent,” said Rich Thompson, CEO of Northern Development.

With a 900-square-foot unit priced at more than $300,000 it’s not a development aimed at first-time buyers, said Thompson.

“We’re looking at empty nesters who want to downsize,” he said. “Those that may have been interested in urban living but they haven’t had the right opportunity, that’s the market we’re catering to.”

There are plans to follow up the condo development with a commercial building if demand holds up, said Thompson.

Those two are the first of several projects that Northern Vision has planned for the waterfront.

“It’s a chance to build a new neighbourhood on the waterfront,” said McDonald.

Northern Development plans on building several commercial, residential and mixed-use buildings.

“Over the next five years we want to build a neighbourhood with tons of amenities, and easy walking distance to anything you could want,” said Thomson. “All said and done there are seven projects.”

This development won’t really make an impact on the housing shortage that the city faces, but Thompson said they do recognize the need for more affordable housing in the city.

“We do have lands that would be appropriate for that, and we’re certainly looking at developing those,” he said.

Even with prices relatively high for the River’s Reach units, the development corporation isn’t making a lot of money on the sales, said Thompson.

“It’s very difficult to make these projects profitable, he said. “We’re not taking a lot of profit on this because we really want this to happen.”

There is a friendly development climate in the city, but it’s expensive to build in Whitehorse, said Thompson.

“I don’t think the citizens of Whitehorse should promote more profitable development,” he said. “But it would be helpful if the city were to take a holistic view of these things, assist to encourage development, and make the economics work.”

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