26 October, 2011
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I’ve never liked the type of person that moves into a new neighbourhood and then complains about the noise, traffic, prostitution, smells, sound and vagrants. They’ve always seems like arrogant pricks to me. When you’re buying into an existing neighbourhood, you are buying into the neighbourhood. The good (hopefully, I mean there must have been something good that would have attracted the person to the block) and the bad.
When it comes to the bad, a big complaint of these new residents is sound.
The Ministry of Sound, a hugely successful nightclub and record label resides in an area of London that in undergoing revitalization and new development. Instead of waiting for the developments to go up, and the new owners’ complaints to come in, the nightclub has – for 2 years – been very active with petitions, leafleting and advertising against the new developments.
This last week Southwark council’s planning committee against the development proposal – a 41 story tower block, proposed by developers Oakmyne, that would have been built near the club.
I’m very excited about this development. It reaffirms that existing businesses (and the Ministry of Sound is a landmark and cultural icon as well) can continue to flourish, and councils recognize that when new development is erected is often has a significant negative impact on existing business. In almost every case the new developments force out old business. This time that whole battle is avoided, and the existing business is respected.
15 August, 2011
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Towns in Alberta generally range in population from 1,000 (minimum required under the Municipal Government Act) through 10,000 – at which point they can request a change to city status. Importantly, towns act as a rally point where citizens lay down roots and build livelihoods to support and better their neighbours – from beauty salons to registries, from mechanic to theater, restaurant to education.
In large municipalities – a condoized region could have several thousand people in only a few square blocks. A large municipality can have many, geographically dense, small towns.
Where most entrepreneurs look to services or goods to “millions of people” – or the whole of the metropolitan area, there is a huge opportunity to build services or provide the sale of goods targeted to just a few square blocks. By scaling your service to just a few condominiums developments (that could have five or six thousand residents), a new business could focus their advertising, build on word of mouth, and control their start-up costs. If instead of trying to conquer the world with their business, they target the town amidst the metropolis, there is a whole new set of competitive services that can be offered.
Imagine a plumber that specializes in the 6000 units that exist in a few square blocks around her – where she knows the boards of most of these buildings, their quirks, how to submit water shut off requests, and complete her service in a way that doesn’t violate any quirky by-laws or regulations. Sure she’s not running all over the city answering the call of a million metropolitan citizens. But in losing this approach to business she has focused on a huge economic area which she has become the local specialist that is literally just a few minutes away on foot.
11 August, 2011
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It’s amazing how many situations exist that the condominium structure can be used to successfully rehabilitate developments.
The city of Lorain, Ohio, is looking to convert some of its municipal space into business condominiums and then sell them. They space, the St. Joseph Community Center is woefully underutilized – with almost 2/3 of the building vacant. By converting municipal space into business condos, they can sell part of the building (reducing outstanding loans to the state level) and generate condominium contributions to the maintenance.
3 July, 2011
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Read an article in the ffwdweekly here in Calgary where a local community identified sidewalk replacement as a cost that the local residents and businesses shouldn’t have added to their municipal tax roll – but should be a cost burdened by the entire city.
For many municipalities, Calgary included, sidewalks, alley paving and streetlights are all charged back to the “using” residents and businesses. While not universal, it’s relatively common and not an unusual process.
What I would object to, as a condominium owner, is that condominiums already are disproportionally charged taxes in Calgary under the fair market value (where all properties pay a set percentage of their value each year as tax). Fair Market Value taxation isn’t fair to many condominiums. For instance, multi-unit apartment style does not receive garbage pickup from the municipality. They have to pay for private pick up, while still paying the city for garbage pickup which they don’t deliver on.
For sidewalks, it wouldn’t be uncommon in Calgary with large lots, to have a single residence with 30 metres of sidewalk or more. For multi-unit condominiums, that could work to as low as 2 metres/unit. As in the case of community requesting that “the whole city” pay for their new sidewalk, they are significantly underpaying their share and offloading it to more eco-friendly condominiums which have significantly smaller land and services footprints.