Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Car king Kozminski tries condo development

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ONE of the city's most successful car dealers has gone from pushing tin to peddlling bricks and mortar.

Bob Kozminski, the semi-retired former owner of Keystone Ford, has launched a new real estate development company that plans to build the first new 55+ condominium development in North Kildonan in recent memory.

The Edison at 455 will be a $40-million, 131-unit, three-phase development. It will feature two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,000 to 1,289 square feet and priced at $274,900 to $350,000.

Kozminski's new firm, Mematt Developments, cut the ribbon Tuesday at the one-hectare development site at 455 Edison Ave. While Mematt needs to pre-sell 40 of the 65 units in Phase I before it will proceed, Kozminski said that shouldn't be a problem.

"Seventeen to 20 units have sold already," he said in an interview, even though Century 21 Bachman & Associates agent Karen Tereck has only been marketing them for two weeks. "We're very optimistic we'll get the 40 pre-sales done within a month to six weeks."

He said Phase I is expected to get underway in November, and should be complete within 15 or 16 months. Phases II and III will have 35 units each.

Although Kozminski is best-known for his 40 years in the automobile business -- he sold Keystone Ford earlier this year to Birchwood Automotive Group -- this is by no means his first foray into property development.

He estimates companies he has owned have completed 10 or 12 projects over the last 25 years. That includes several residential subdivisions and a number of commercial complexes, many of which included auto-related operations such as gas bars and car washes.

His first property-development project was an eight-unit, multi-family complex he built 35 years ago for his father. It, too, was on Edison.

"I'm a bit of a believer in fate," he said, noting he got involved in this project after the original developers couldn't obtain financing and asked him for money. Instead, he bought them out.

He admitted $40 million is a lot of dough for a single project.

"But I've got some capital now and I looked at the stock market and the returns there are not so good and the interest rate on a savings account is not so good. So I decided to invest in real estate... "

Kozminski said he's not sure if this will be the first of many multi-family residential projects for Mematt, which is named after his two children -- Megan and Matthew.

"I want to wait and see how it goes."

Although he claims to be semi-retired, his activities on Tuesday included several hours working from home, several more spent at the Birchwood Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Winnipeg dealership in which he and Matthew have a half-ownership stake, attending the ribbon cutting, and several hours meeting the project's contractor and sales agent.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 26, 2012 B5

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