City Council has accepted an offer from Brar Investment Group to purchase 5.17 acres of City property located at 800 28th Street West for $1 million, further contributing to the growth of the West Hill area.
Gary Brar, CEO of Brar Investment Group, is currently developing a new 120-bed Holiday Inn hotel in the City’s newest entertainment district, The Yard. After expressing interest in real estate, Director of Planning Craig Guidinger and Building Inspector Michael Nelson took the opportunity to show Brar the available property at West Hill.
Within days, an offer was made by Brar Investment Group, said Mayor Greg Dionne.
“This is a gentleman who, within days you might say, nearly built a hotel in town here and he saw the confidence in this city in what he was doing in The Yard and decided, ‘look, I’m going to invest even more money in your community’,” said Coun. Don Cody. “It’s about $50 million, that’s a pile of money, and that’s a pile of jobs. That’s really what we need in this city.”
The site will be the future home of three apartment buildings with 60 units each, with work to commence in May 2023 with a timeline of approximately two years until completion. Once fully constructed, the three apartment buildings are expected to generate significant taxation revenue for the City.
According to a report from the Department of Planning, the average 72-unit apartment building in Prince Albert currently pays more than $88,000 in taxes every year.
“Three apartments, that is a lot of housing, and at a particular time when you’re getting a new university in the area and the Metis folks are looking at an opportunity, the [Victoria] Hospital is going,” continued Cody. “All of those kinds of things are happening, and I say, we are in exciting times.”
Over the next three years, Brar Investment Group has proposed an investment plan to pay the one million dollars through three annual payments. Before construction begins, Brar is expected to make a payment of $100,000 and in years two and three, the investment group will make separate $450,000 payments.
The $1 million offer equates to approximately $200,000 per acre, said the report.
The property has been advertised for sale off and on over the last number of years, with this being the first offer brought forward to Council for consideration.
Brar Investment Group has developed hotels and multi-unit residential suites all over Saskatchewan. For those interested in learning more about the company’s previous projects, a development application permit will be made available to the public “right away”, according to Guidinger.
Mayor Greg Dionne said the timing of the offer couldn’t be better, since one of the things that was asked about during a recent meeting with the representatives from the Victoria Hospital was if the City is ready for the 500 jobs that are going to come with the opening of the new tower and if there are places available for the incoming staff to live.
Dionne pointed out how well the rental properties are doing on Woodbridge Dr., which is now mostly full of nurses and hospital staff renting the area’s duplexes and four-plexes.
“If we get lucky and get the university, this will be a great project and you’ll probably see it grow,” he added.
Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick noted how the out-of-town developer’s confidence in Prince Albert’s economy is reassuring that Council is moving in the right direction and making the correct decisions on behalf of the city.
“A $50 million project is not a small project,” said Ogrodnick. “My guess is that once this happens and fills up and our city continues to grow and people have confidence in our city, there’ll probably be more coming when these developers see what’s actually happening in Prince Albert.”
He added that this is an opportunity to brag about Prince Albert.
“Let’s make an effort to show the residents that this is not a dump, this is not a crime-infested city like how some people want to paint,” Ogrodnick continued. “We’re not crooks, we haven’t embezzled or got envelopes of money. This is something to be proud of.”
The West Hill area is proving to be the next hub for growth in Prince Albert, with applications for new projects flying at Council at record speed recently. Not only is the Victoria Hospital Project currently going forward with its next phase, but the area may also be home to a new northern campus for the First Nations University of Canada, as well as a proposed development of a large office building and childcare facility by Metis Nation-Saskatchewan.