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Calling in the professionals

City puts property in hands of realtors

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 09/01) - The city has enlisted realtors in an attempt to spur sluggish sales of its Niven Lake subdivision and other city-owned properties.

Last week Coldwell Banker Northern Bestsellers, one of two local companies that responded to a request for proposals, was awarded the contract to list all of the city's properties on the multiple listing service.

"Realtors work 20 hours a day, seven days a week and city hall works regular business hours," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem of the reasoning behind the move.

The contract runs for one year, starting this week. Under the terms of the agreement, Coldwell gets a 1.5 per cent commission as listing agent and the selling agent gets another 1.5 per cent.

Last Thursday Coldwell met with city staff to discuss its marketing plan. Though the contract also calls for marketing of Kam Lake lots and those the city has seized for back taxes, the plan will focus on the six-year-old Niven Lake subdivision, said Coldwell co-owner Ken Pearman.

"We plan to hold a big open house and a walking tour," said Pearman.

"If it sells quickly, they will develop the next phase (this summer)," he said.

The first phase of the 300-lot subdivision has been on the market for six years. Despite several incentive programs, only 14 of 26 lots have sold. The most recent sale was made last week.

If the remaining developed lots sell out quickly, Pearman said another 18 lots will be brought on stream. That involves extending a road, laying of underground water and sewage lines and construction of a lift station, at a total cost of approximately $800,000.

The city has not set aside money for the development in this year's budget.

Van Tighem said the city is willing to look at proposals from other developers who might want to get involved in developing the subdivision.

The extension would continue along the only existing road in the subdivision, toward the ski trails, with nine lots located on each side of the road.

A year ago the city paid $3 million to buy out its private partners in the subdivision, Volker Stevin, Dillon Consulting and Reid Crowther. A clause in the 1995 agreement -- touted as a formula for sharing "the risks and rewards" of the development -- allowed the private partners to opt out if sales did not meet expectations.

City staff and Coldwell realtors took stock of the lots available at Niven Lake Monday. Pearman said the first order of business is to get an accurate inventory of all the property the city owns and get the listings on the multiple listing service.

The multiple listing service is an Internet-based service that advertises lots for sale to realtors around the world.