City looks to create for-profit land company

The City of Edmonton is looking at getting into the development business, at least where it concerns city-owned land, according to a new report.

The report also said the city-owned firm would likely work to rezone the five undisclosed properties and then sell them, or might bring in private partners to push development along.

“By virtue of being independent, the (company) would also have the flexibility to direct decisions toward maximizing return, rather than being tied in to politically driven directions for development,” stated the report.

The goal of the chief executive and two or three employees would be to make money and help build Edmonton the way the city wants, says the report, based on recommendations from a panel of real-estate experts.

“This is a very creative initiative to help accelerate the pace redevelopment and help ensure vibrant urban community comes together,” James Knull, an Edmonton-area real estate agent specializing in investment properties, told CREW.

“This sort of strategy will help ensure that these projects fit with a vision that’s best for Edmontonians.”

Not everyone is on board with idea.

The report stated that private developers and builders expressed a “strongly held view” the company would directly compete with them while keeping tax and other advantages.

Coun. Michael Oshry, who initiated the idea, told the Edmonton Journal many of these people don’t understand how the new company would operate.

“It will kick-start development in some parts of the city that have been tough to get going … I’m not afraid of the perspective of the development industry. Once they see what it’s about, I think their view will change.”

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