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Kicking it up in the Kootenays

Dermot Mack, Western Investor, September 2008

According to the Kootenay Real Estate board, the dollar volume of MLS sales processed surpassed the billion-dollar barrier for the first time ever in 2007, exceeding $1.13 billion, a 34 per cent from a year earlier. A study by Landcor Data Corp. found that Kootenay buyers are primarily from Alberta, which accounted for 67 per cent of all real estate buyers in 2007; half of these from Calgary. Landcor reports that the median value of an attached house in the Kootenays is $250,000, up from $182,000 in 2006, despite slower sales.

Condominium apartments sell for a median of $190,000 and building lots fetch a median price of $100,000, a 25 per cent increase in the past two years.

But the Kootenays are not immune to the real estate downturn that is being seen right across the province this year, according to Landcor, which recently released data on first quarter sales in the region.

Kootenay residential real estate sales dropped to a four-year low in the first three months, with a total of 1,038 transactions, Landcor found. “These sales totalled $265 million, managing to exceed the first quarter of 2007 values by 1.95 per cent,” Landcor reported. Condominiums accounted for 25 per cent of Kootenay sales in the first quarter, with detached houses accounting for 41 per cent, and vacant land which made up 22 per cent of the local market.

A key reason for the slower sales may be a lack of Alberta buyers. Landcor found that sales of BC property to Albertans declined nearly 21 per cent in the first quarter, compared to a year earlier.

While total sales have slowed, new resort and residential are coming on stream.


The Redstone Resort near Rossland is our first stop. The refurbishing and expansion of the old nine–hole Rossland Golf Course to a Les Furber designed championship 18-hole links will be complete this fall, and Redstone is offering a selection of real estate on and near the course.

This includes course-side building lots, for single family and duplex homes, from $178,000, said marketing manager John Reed.

Investors may also be interested in the new four-plex and duplex homes that Redstone are building overlooking the fairway.

The luxury units – hardwood floors, granite counters and a two-car garage are standard-range up to 1,194 square feet, and are priced from $375,000 per unit. The homes come with two years of free golf, and free ski passes for two on nearby Red Mountain.


In Nelson, a new waterfront village is being built on the historic town’s last lakefront site.

Developed by New Future Building, Kutenai Landing will add 162 homes to the area and represents an opportunity for buyers to live on the shores of Kootenay Lake and still be within walking distance to what the New York Times calls “the prettiest small town in Canada.”

Kutenai Landing is composed of three mid-rise multi-phased steel and concrete buildings surrounding a courtyard park and community garden.

“Nelson is one of the most scenic placed in Canada. It is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, has a quaint heritage feel and is a top destination for arts, culture and world class recreation,” said Curt Woodhall, principal of Lift Real Estate Sales & Marketing. Kutenai has a choice of studio, one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom, two-bedroom-plus-den and three-bedroom layouts with sizes from 478 to 1,591 square feet. Most suites are priced under $400,000, starting at $199,900. Sales started last month.


In Fernie, developer Reto Barrington and Glen Park Management Corporation have redrawn plans for the proposed 18-hold Blackstone golf course and residential resort.

After more than three years and upwards of $1 million invested, Barrington has abandoned plans to include a public golf course as part of the Blackstone play, that was once forecast to open in 2009.

Though five holes has been mapped out for the site, numerous municipal and provincial constraints have resulted in significant construction delays, ultimately convincing Barrington to look elsewhere among the course’s 230 acres to keep the project moving ahead.

“I can’t wait any longer,” Barrington told the Fernie Free Press. “At a certain point not long ago, it was made obvious that we couldn’t continue to take on the business risk [on the public course]. Now I just have to walk away and it’s really sad.”

A re-design is in the works, said Barrington. Plans call for a 230 acre golf-course allotment, as well as a 400-acre high density residential/resort. The course is to be designed by Greg Norman and is forecast to eventually boast about 1,000 homes.


Fairmont Hot Springs, which was purchased by Ontario-based Ken Fowler Enterprises in 2006, has released 56 new home sites as part of a $1 billion expansion of the historic resort.

With an all natural mineral hot springs and spa, a ski hill and 45 holes of golf in full operation, Fairmont Hot Springs offers investors an in to amenities and recreational activities that take years to creates at other resort communtities.

“The home sites we are releasing are perched on a ridge overlooking the Columbia Valley. They are all one-third of an acre and will be linked to the village by the valley trail system being started this year,” said Paul McIntyre, director of sales and marketing for the real estate development at Fairmont.

The building sites start to $170,000 and are set into the mountainside at the northwest end of Fairmont. Buyers will not be limited to the type of homes they can build on the sites.

“We already had over 500 registrations on the website requesting information about the home sites,” McIntyre said.

Fairmont Hot Springs master plan includes relocated and newly designed hot springs pools, a new village centre with luxury hotel condominiums and expanded dining and shopping options along with a spa and wellness centre.

Plans are also underway to evaluate the ski area for an expansion, with the possibility of adding a gondola and an additional 700 vertical feet of skiable terrain. Fairmont Hot Springs is one hour from Cranbrook, BC, and three hours west of Calgary.


Since the Revelstoke Mountain Resort was purchased by four investors, led by Denver, Colorado-based Don Simpson, the Resort has become an international hit and one of the hottest real estate plays in the Kootenays.

Over the next 15 years, the resort plans to complete 2,000 hotel suites, 1,500 condos, 850 town houses and 500 single family lots around the base.

Luxury condos in the base’s area Northern Lodge buildings sold out within hours this spring, and most of the 25 single family lot estates, priced to $1.35 million with zoning for private helipads, have also been sold, bringing total sales to more than $100 million.