Originally Posted by van Hemessen
Related to this, I had a lecture a few days ago from the man who initiated Kitchener's brownfield redevelopment strategy. He said it took him a lot of time and energy canvassing developers to find someone interested in developing condos in downtown Kitchener - most developers thought that condos would never fly in Kitchener-Waterloo since everyone wanted single-family homes. But once they found a developer willing to convert the Kaufmann Building downtown to condos, and once it became apparent that project had been successful, they got the ball rolling on a whole number of downtown projects (not just brownfields).
All it takes was for one developer to take a risk and show that something can turn a profit, and the rest will follow.
Kitchener is trying hard to make a go of the condo thing as so much of its downtown has old abandoned industrial sites. London has none. The business models are quite different as a result.
Bear in mind that to date there have been two condo developments in downtown Kitchener - both refurbished buildings that had a prior use. The first, the Kaufman factory re-development, while considered a success now, had terrible birthing pains: 6 or more years late, horrid industrial contamination, and buyers forced to live in hotels for 6 or 8 months because their units were not completed in time.
The second development- the re-development of the old Eaton's department store - was an unmitigated disaster. The building was not (and still isn't) complete, was denied occupancy permits because it was not built to code, and eventually the "developer" split town. The buyers were royally screwed left holding the bag.
A third development - the re-development of the old Arrow shirt factory by Andrin has been ongoing for 6 or 8 years and there seems to be no end in site. There never seems to be more than a handful of workers on site at any given time, although some progress is visible once again.
A fourth project is a new 17 story development. It has been stalled for over 7 years however. The developer now says that they will start building only after two-thirds of the units are pre-sold. This isn't expected until 2012 at the earliest.
So, in short, there has been one brownfield condo redevelopment in downtown Kitchener to date that could be said to be successful (and only then after great birthing pains). Subsequent "spin-off" condo projects have been less than successful to date however. That isn't to say that things won't improve, but for now the record is checkered.
A current brownfield redevelopment in downtown Kitchener that is looking to be quite successful is the re-development of the Lang Tannery factory, although that is offices not residential (at least for now).