An assessment conducted by a Saskatoon real estate appraiser and released by an anonymous Prince Albert citizens group used comparisons with 10 different properties before determining the value of an 18-acre parcel purchased by the City of Prince Albert.
An appraiser from Brunsdon Lawrek and Associates estimated the value of the land at around $3.5-million based on comparisons with 10 properties sold in the last 10 years. The most recent sale was in April 2019, while the oldest came in August 2012.
Five of those 10 property sales were in Prince Albert, while the others were in Melville, Rosthern, Hague, Kindersley and Saskatoon. The appraiser also looked at comparable properties still on the market in Prince Albert, Yorkton and Balgonie.
Based on those findings, the appraiser estimated the land’s value at around $3.5-million, which works out to more than $194,000/acre. That value assumes the land is fully serviced at the time of purchase. City council voted to pay Signature Developments Corp. $362,000/acre for the property in June.
The assessor wrote that the five Prince Albert properties, plus the 8.1 acre property in Melville, were the primary indicators of value when comparing with City’s 18-acre property. The assessor also wrote that because of changing market conditions, which included the effects of COVID-19, the assessment value should only be considered reliable for the effective date specified in the report.
The five Prince Albert properties considered to be primary indicators are a 0.73 acre property at 600 17th Street West purchased for $215,000/acre in April 2019, a 1.36 acre property at 3450 Sixth Avenue East purchased for $208,940/acre in September 2018, a 7.16 acre property at 1650 Sixth Avenue East for $698,000/acre in July 2016, a 7.32 acre property at 4345-4355 Second Avenue West purchased for $168,033/acre in June 2013, and a 2.57 acre property at 4260 Fifth Avenue East purchased for $121,186/acre in August 2012.
The 0.73 acre property sold in April 2019 is located in the West Flat. It was purchased from the City of Prince Albert, and the buyer plans on converting it to Reserve status. The assessor wrote that it gave a good indication of land value because it was a recent sale, but the size was too small to be a perfect comparison.
The 1.36 acre property sold in September 2018 is south of the Art Hauser Centre, and north of the Best Western Marquis Inn and Suites. The assessor wrote that the land had some development restrictions which hurt the value, but could be comparable because it was located on a major corridor roadway.
“This land could be perceived to set an upper range limit on the value,” the report reads.
The 7.16 acre property sold in July 2016 includes the current location of the Save-On Foods grocery store, and Original Joe’s restaurant, as well as other commercial retail bays in the nearby strip malls. The sale is one of the largest in Prince Albert’s recent history.
The assessor wrote that even though there were concerns about unreasonable levels of contamination at the time of the sale, it was still a high value property because of its location. The report considers the property superior to the City’s 18-acre parcel, which is why it sold for nearly $700,000/acre.
The 7.32 acre property sold in June 2013 is the site of the old West Sales dealership that burned down in 2010. It was considered fully serviced, undeveloped land at the time of the 2013 sale, the assessor wrote. However, it is smaller than the City’s 18-acre parcel, and is “set slightly back from the highway,” which decreases its exposure to traffic.
The 2.57 acre property sold in August 2012 is on the west side of Highway 3 in Prince Albert’s southeast corner. That puts it close to the City’s 18-acre property. It sold for $121,186 per acre at that time, but the pricing structure has changed since then, wrote the assessor. While the price may have reflected the demand for land in the area at the time, “the profile is considered to have improved somewhat over the past eight years,” the report reads.
The assessors also made comparisons with 0.86 acre parcel of serviced and partially improved land currently on the market at 11 15th Street East in Prince Albert. This property is located right across the street from the Prince Albert Fire Department, and was selling for $260,000—or $302,000/acre—at the time of the report.
Considering the small size, levels of improvement, and well-exposed location, the assessor write, this parcel is superior to the City’s 18-acre parcel, and should be expected to sell for a higher per acre value.
Anonymous citizens group Concerned Residents and Taxpayers of Prince Albert released details about the assessment in a pamphlet last week. The group included an email address Prince Albert residents could use to obtain copies of the report. They retracted that offer and asked for all copies to be returned or destroyed after Brunsdon Lawrek and Associates told them they could not distribute those findings.
The assessment includes an 18-point Contingent or Limiting Conditions section. Point 12 specifies that the report’s contents are confidential, and will not be disclosed by the author or any party except when required by the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP) or when entered into evidence in court.
The appraiser declined a request for comment when contacted by the Daily Herald on Friday, Oct. 30.
Mayor Greg Dionne has said he will not answer questions about the assessment unless members of Concerned Residents and Taxpayers of Prince Albert come forward and reveal their identity.
“I’m not going to rebut anything in that document, because without a name it’s a waste of paper,” Dionne told the Daily Herald on Friday. “The only time I will rebut it to the media is if the person who wrote it is present, and then I will invite the media to join us.”
“I’ve challenged them to come out and identify themselves and debate me, and instead of coming out, and debating me, they’ve gone further underground,” Dionne added. “That tells me this pamphlet should be thrown in the garbage. It’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on. If you’re not willing to stand up and be counted, you shouldn’t be.”
Dionne is running against three challengers in the upcoming mayoral election. Candidate Dennis Nowoselsky, who voted against the land purchase when he was the councillor for Ward 7, praised the anonymous group for bringing the information forward, but said it would be difficult to reverse the decision after the election.
Candidate Darryl Hickie echoed those comments, saying city council could have saved itself a lot of trouble by conducting an assessment before voting on the purchase. However, he also said he would prefer to see the concerns raised by someone on the public record, instead of anonymously.
Candidate Josh Morrow came out in support of the deal, and urged Prince Albert residents to accept it and move forward. Like Nowoselsky, Morrow said it would be difficult to reverse the decision at this stage. However, he also argued the facility would benefit Prince Albert families, and he encouraged residents to get behind it.