New subdivision pitched to council
Developer meets with town council to discuss tax deferrals to speed up construction
Tuesday, Mar 07, 2017 06:00 am
If a developer gets her way, a new 300-home subdivision will be open in Westlock within the next four years.
The proposed development is slated for vacant land south of the Westlock Health Centre between 100 Ave and Highway 44 and at the vacant area east of the Rotary Spirit Centre and west of 98A Avenue. Plans include new commercial space as well as a new residential subdivision with 300 homes, including condos, duplexes and single-family dwellings.
“We’re quite ambitious,” said Joel West 67 president Tammy Joel Kemna at the town council’s regular meeting Feb. 27. “We’re hoping to be into the dirt work by late summer. The completion of this project, both the commercial and the residential, would be in four years.”
Kemna was present to ask the town for tax concessions on the soon-to-be rezoned land titles and a 75 per cent cut to the security bond to speed the process up.
Normally, developers are responsible for installing necessary infrastructure in a new subdivision and municipalities collect a security bond in case the development is not finished.
“The costs out of the gate are enormous,” she said. “There’s the engineering, there’s the permitting, and there is the infrastructure. At the same time, we don’t even have titles yet. We can’t even sell until we have titles. When we have a heavy year out the front, we need cash flow. If we sell say 40 lots in the first year, we would like to move into the next phase.”
Under the company’s proposal, taxes on the land titles would be deferred until they make sales.
She noted that each phase of the development would provide a needed shot in the arm to the economy, estimating the project could be worth as much as $50 million in revenue for the community.
“During the construction stage, even with the streets and the roads, we’re going to have economics coming into your town,” said Kemna. “Right now I’m staying in one of your hotels. We’re going to have more of our ladies and gentlemen staying, eating and enjoying your town. Supplies will be bought in town. Then we still have the build side of it.”
Kemna stressed she was eager to work hand-in-hand with residents, going as far as to ask students of R.F. Staples School to come up with a name and logo for the new subdivision.
“Involvement in the community is really important in what we do,” said Kemna. “It’s not just about the land developer, we’re wanting the community’s input and involvement.”
She added that she had already spoken with several residents interested in the development.
“We met with the principal of R.F Staples School and she said she’s lived here a year and a half and she hasn’t yet bought a home,” said Kemna. “She wants to buy a home, a condo, a town home, a duplex. She wants to be here. She wants to be in this community. Your school teachers are driving a lot of your development.”
Once the initial paperwork is done, Kemna said she was hoping to have an open house to get input from potential customers and rank-and-file residents.
“We want to invite the community to the open house to get their feedback,” she said. “What are people looking for? Are they moving in from the country? Do they want to see a duplex, or a condo or a single-family home? These are things that we don’t just want to take the luxury and design it the way we see it. We want the community’s interaction.”
Town council took the company’s request into consideration and opted to arrange further meetings. Chief administrative officer Dean Krause said administration would meet with the developer before the town’s next regular meeting March 13.
Krause added that while they’re curious about the proposal, nothing has been agreed to yet.
“They’ve made the two requests,” he said. “We have to see exactly what they are envisioning there and see if it’s even possible under the Municipal Government Act.”
Mayor Ralph Leriger said he was encouraged by the developer’s interest in Westlock.
“Having lots for sale, both residential and commercial, has been part of our strategic plan for some time,” he said. “If you’re going to promote yourself and try and grow, you’d better have somewhere to put them when they come looking.