By Kalinowski, Tim on May 8, 2020.
City council has approved Lethbridge Land’s $13.3-million budget to continue subdivision development work in The Crossings on Great Bear Boulevard West in 2020, but will re-evaluate where the market is at in October and make any necessary adjustments at that point.
The good news is 2019 bids for work done in those areas were budgeted at approximately $10.5 million and came in about $2 million under that.
The bad news is with increasing market turmoil due to COVID-19, city council was told during Monday’s regular meeting there was no way to predict where the local real estate market was going in 2020. But with people’s spending power reduced in Lethbridge, it was likely to take a pounding; at least in the short term.
In fact, market uncertainty has claimed its first potential casualty in Lethbridge, city council was informed, as FWS Technologies Ltd., which had previously agreed to purchase a parcel of land in Lethbridge’s Sherring Industrial Park for about $3.8 million to construct a food processing facility at 3401 39 St. N., may have to pull out of the deal. Council agreed to extend FWS Tech’s option to purchase date during Monday’s meeting until Oct. 30 to give the company more time to decide whether or not it wants to go through with the deal.
Mayor Chris Spearman said this change and potentially others to come were a direct result of COVID-19’s impact on the North American and world economy.
“There are unusual conditions with respect to land sales this year, everything is down,” said Spearman.
“Sales are down, residential and commercial sales. At this time, there is no urgency to change the mandate (of Lethbridge Land), and we’ll get some new assessments.”
Spearman hoped by extending FWS Technologies’ option to buy six months from the original closing date that it would give the company the breathing space it needs to see a potential economic recovery in the food sector post-COVID.
“It’s all about cashflow, and we understand the reluctance of businesses to make investments at this time,” he said. “We want to continue to say Lethbridge is open for business, and we want to work with the business community as they, too, struggle with cashflow issues … (FWS Tech) that’s a food-processing investment. It is about development of our protein industry, which is a quarter of what we do (economically) in the City of Lethbridge. So we certainly want to work with potential investors to make sure that becomes a reality.”
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