Open Letter to the Owners in Northlands

From Sam Gamble, March 2013

Last month Louie Azzolinni mentioned an idea to me that really stuck:  Northlands should apply to be rezoned.  The more I thought about the idea, the more I thought it made sense.  While it costs very little to do, it would create value for the owners in Northlands.

Prior to 2009, an average of 25 of your neighbours sold their homes each year -- since then, that number has plummeted to around one sale per year.  Once Northlands opens up again, the rush of sellers from three years of built-up demand to sell will push prices substantially downwards.

On the plus side, Northlands is neighbourhood ripe for rejuvenation. It’s on the Frame Lake trail system and more centrally located than Frame Lake South, Range Lake North, Latham Island and half of Old Town. In my opinion, Northlands shares a lot of similarities to other ‘up & coming’ neighbourhoods like Trails End, 49a Avenue & Forrest Drive Park.

An important part of the rejuvenation process is allowing for property to be redeveloped to the highest and best use.  Under the current zoning only single family homes are permitted in Northlands, however, a quick look around town indicates what the market sees as the highest and best use: multi-family. Density is the name of the game - with Duplexes, condos and townhouses being built wherever possible.  Rezoning Northlands to include medium density housing will take advantage of this trend. The less restrictive zoning means more potential uses which leads to higher demand for land in Northlands.  And when demand goes up, so will prices - a win for the owners in Northlands.  

49a Avenue is an example of the role of flexible zoning in neighbourhood rejuvenation.  In the past year 10% of the neighbourhood has been redeveloped, including a luxury duplex, a new two-storey home and a new manufactured home.  How much do these projects add to the value of their neighbours?  It is hard to say exactly, but if a $1.2 million duplex just got built in your neighbourhood comprised of 1970’s trailers, it’s safe to say the street isn’t losing any value.

While the infrastructure issues are obviously the first priority, owners should consider rezoning now to increase their property values before the market in Northlands opens up.

This April marks the three year anniversary of Northlands being essentially shut out of the real estate market. Let it be the owners, who have been patiently waiting all this time, who benefit from the value increase.