Waterfront land not selling fast enough

The city's inability to sell off its waterfront land worries councillor Doug Graham. Holding the land is a drain on city coffers, he said. The city bought land on First and Second avenues, and hoped to flip it to replenish its cash reserves.

The city’s inability to sell off its waterfront land worries councillor Doug Graham.

Holding the land is a drain on city coffers, he said.

The city bought land on First and Second avenues, and hoped to flip it to replenish its cash reserves.

“We expected those lots would sell and replenish the land-reserve fund,” said Graham.

Last summer, the city put 15 lots for sale along the waterfront. None have sold.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Graham.

“We’re losing money from not getting interest (if the waterfront property were sold and the money were in the bank) and we’re not gaining taxes from those properties.”

“We need to have somebody step up and develop (that land),” said city manager Dennis Shewfelt.

“We want to bring more activity to the waterfront.”

The land-reserve account is hovering at $1 million; the city would instead like to see it in the $5-million range.

“The land-bank reserve will hopefully be topped up as land is sold,” said Shewfelt, adding the city is banking on the sale of properties in the Stan McCowan and Takhini North subdivision to replenish the fund.

Prices for the mixed-use lots along the waterfront range from $497,000 to $651,000.

“For the private sector it’s a significant investment and, with the uncertainty in the economy, they want to be sure that there will be a return,” said Shewfelt.

It’s only a matter of time before the waterfront properties are snatched up, he added.

In the worst-case scenario, if the land doesn’t sell, only “land-related projects would be affected,” said Shewfelt.

Money from another reserve account wouldn’t be drawn down to replenish the land-bank reserve, he said.

“If we don’t sell the Takhini North properties, we will have some problems with the reserve fund,” said Graham.

The city is hoping that future construction by the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Vuntut Development Corporation will spur interest from other developers.(Vivian Belick)

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