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Condos attracting more people to the downtown
Jun 29, 2012

 

There is good reason to be optimistic about more residential development occurring downtown and within the Exchange District, as related by Stefano Grande in the article below.
One chart pulled from WinnipegREALTORS® MLS® system shows that a turnaround in the downtown MLS® area is more real than perceived. It compares list price medians to sale price medians for downtown condominiums over a five-year period. In 2011, the median sale price outperformed the median list price for the first time, which is a sign that demand for condominiums has increased. 
There is more evidence of the turnaround this year by comparing the conversion of sales-to-listings since 2007 for the period January 1 to May 31. If you were to average it out over that six-year period, the percentage of conversions is in the 60 per cent range. In 2012, the conversion is 84.7 per cent, which is outstanding, and compares favourably to any MLS® area for conversions of condominiums or single-family homes.
Winnipeggers should be pleased with the interesting and good variety of condo projects in the downtown. Prices are appealing too, as the District Condominiums on Market Avenue start in the high $100,000s and The Penthouse on Princess St. has units selling from $200,000 to $300,000.  The spaceship-like condo project built along Waterfront Drive was specifically kept to 608-square-foot units at a sale price under $200,000.
Downtown market
by Stefano Grande
In 2007, the average sale price of a downtown condo was just over $96,000. A short five years later, the average condo price is in excess of $240,000.  
Condos are a great investment for first-time home buyers, empty-nesters and even investors, with dollar volume  sales almost doubling over the same period. 
A short eight years ago, you would often hear, “No one wants to live downtown.” Well, that has changed. Eight years ago there was literally no product to buy, as a result no one could buy anything downtown, so a new market had to be created.  
The vacant riverfront in the East Exchange area is now Waterfront Drive, which has become one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the city. Once obsolete or vacant historical buildings are now coming back to life.  People will live downtown  if great condos are available.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took a great effort by organizations such as WinnipegREALTORS®, the Downtown BIZ and many others to convince our politicians that creating a robust downtown housing market is in the best fiscal, social and environmental interest  of our city and province. The politicians were told that the market had to be created through revitalization efforts, which in turn leads to market-driven opportunities.  
Over a decade, programs such as HOP (Housing Opportunity Partnership) and WHHI (Winnipeg Homlessness and Housing Intiative), have changed the face of the inner city and strengthened a faltering downtown real estate market  in a significant way.
Thanks to an innovative city and provincial Downtown Residential Development Grants housing program, now being delivered by the downtown's development agency, CentreVenture, more than 1,500 residential housing units and millions of dollars in private-sector investment will be coming on-stream in the next three to five years, adding to the incredible momentum now occurring.
Downtown is not for everyone, but if you are one of those people tired of driving everywhere, if you love walking to work or crave eating out regularly, enjoy night life, culture, entertainment, hanging out on a patio and absorbing the heritage of our buildings, the downtown is for you.  
The downtown is all about cool and creative people. And world-class parks are being added to the landscape enabling you to take your dog for a stroll. As a result, the downtown is emerging as the newest residential neighborhood of choice.
To celebrate the downtown and the condos being developed, the Downtown BIZ with our partners, such as WinnipegREALTORS®, Centre Venture and the Exchange District BIZ ,will be staging downtown tours this summer.
As well, the BIZ is launching a new downtown living website: www.myplaceisdowntown.com
Tours will be running all summer for busy office workers looking to check out a place on their lunch hour, starting July 5 at the brand-new display suite of District Condominiums. 
Explore your downtown by registering at myplaceisdowntown.com or e-mailing to info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com
(Stefano Grande is the executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.)