Developer not big on losing land to retention pond

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Developer Andrew Marquess said the possibility of a retention pond never came up when he was negotiating the 2009 land swap, adding he doesn't want to lose that land to the city.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/02/2015 (2903 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Developer Andrew Marquess said the possibility of a retention pond never came up when he was negotiating the 2009 land swap, adding he doesn’t want to lose that land to the city.

“In 2009, I knew nothing about the land needed for the pond when we did the swap,” Marquess said, adding as far as he knew, the city’s only concern was being able to buy back land for a roadway.

“I have told the city I don’t want to sell the land. I would be absolutely happy if they put the pond in a different location, and I’ve asked the city if they could put the pond in a different location.”

Andrew Marquess

Marquess will lose a significant chunk of the original 59-acre Parker lands: One-third, 20 acres, will be taken for the retention pond; and another 4.4 acres will be sold to the city for the completion of the transitway corridor to the University of Manitoba campus.

Marquess said he knew there was a possibility he’d lose some land for the corridor — as there was a buy-back provision in the 2009 deal that set the price at $17,000 an acre — but he said he was taken by surprise when the city approached him for more land for the retention pond.

“It’s going to change the nature of our (Parker) development, because it’s a significant piece of our dirt.”

An administrative report states the city had been trying to negotiate a purchase price for the 20 acres with Marquess.

Based on the 2009 buy-back provision, those 20 acres were worth $340,000 then, and their value likely has increased substantially in the intervening years.

“That’s correct,” Marquess said, adding he won’t place a value on the land and won’t bargain publicly with the city.

Marquess said there are those who think he will make a big profit when the city either buys or expropriates the 20 acres, but said that has never been his goal and wasn’t when he acquired the land in 2009.

“If I own the land, I probably will build multi-family (units) on it, and now I lose that opportunity to create an asset,” he said.

“I lose an opportunity on a massive chunk of land.”

Marquess said the city would benefit if it could find another location for the pond — it would save the cost of buying or expropriating the 20 acres, and it would collect property-tax revenue once the property has been developed.

Marquess said he won’t say what he thinks the land is worth and insists his preference is not to lose it at all.

Coun. John Orlikow, chairman of the property and development committee, said city officials said there is no other public land where the pond can be built.

Mayor Brian Bowman said he wasn’t going to defend a decision to construct the city’s largest retention pond on land it doesn’t own, adding that occurred before he became mayor, but said he’s satisfied the right decisions have been made.

“We’re making the decision based on the information we have, and I’m confident we’re proceeding in an appropriate way,” Bowman said following the Feb. 18 meeting of executive policy committee, which endorsed the expropriation process.

Marquess said he also doesn’t need the BRT corridor to go along his property — the controversial Parker dog-leg route — and he doesn’t need it to ensure the success of the development there.

“Put the route down Pembina Highway. I said I was OK with that,” Marquess said. “I’m fine with it one way or the other.”

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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