Gerry Thomasen's Blog

Map showing approximate location of townhomes at 4066 Old Slope Place, Diver Lake area, Nanaimo

As you drive on the Nanaimo Parkway from the Northfield exit toward Mostar Rd, there's a property on your right, 300m before Mostar Road. This was cleared in the spring of 2017 to make way for a new townhome development. It's not yet clear when the homes will be built and ready for possession - presumably in late 2018 or early 2019.

There are 35 duplex buildings on the plan, meaning that 70 homes will be available. There are 1- and 2-storey units planned, and it appears that all of them will include an attached garage as well as some driveway. See below for one of the sketches of a 2-storey townhome in this development.

The plan includes the following features:

  • A public trailway will connect Old Slope Place with Verte Place along the north
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Recognize the vacant lot pictured in these Google Streetview photos? It's where Farquhar intersects with Victoria Rd, near Dairy Queen in the South End.

Location of 253 Selby St lot

That lot's been vacant for as long as I can remember (anyone?). But the City has approved an application for building a 3-storey development with commercial spaces on the ground floor and two floors of residential townhomes above.

It looks like the WORKspaces downstairs will be connected/available to the LIVEspaces above, and that each unit will total around 1550 sq ft, including its commercial space. However, I'm not certain of my interpretation of the report.

Here's an image from the proposal:

253 Victoria Rd townhomes proposed design

I look forward to seeing these in place. I hope to learn all about the development so that

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There are so many opportunities for commercial real estate investment in downtown Nanaimo, with tons of lots sitting empty, waiting for someone with a plan. It's great to see that someone is investing in the area around Albert St.

An application has been submitted to the City for building a 45-room hotel with meeting rooms and a 36-seat restaurant at the 440 Selby St. This site is adjacent to the Service BC access centre, the government building on your right as you approach the midway-point of Albert St. You may remember that there was a brightly-painted "sausage house" here a few years ago.

Here's one of the renderings submitted to the City:

Rendering of Selby Hotel, 440 Selby St

This photo may help you to realize which lot is in question:

View of 440 Selby before the hotel

If you want to see more

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Most people have heard about the "crazy real estate market" we're seeing in 2017. But do you what KIND of crazy we're seeing? Here's a brief explanation - first in word form, then with some numbers, and finally some charts.

There's a lot of demand. Like, a LOT. The BC economy is great, the Island is very desirable, Vancouver's prices are pushing people out to the fringes, transportation across the pond is improving, and foreign nationals want a piece of it all. But supply can't keep up!

Inventory levels hit a historic low in December, and the trend continues. It's a seller's market (in the extreme); if a listing is appropriately priced, it is likely to sell within a few DAYS, often with bidding wars driving the price higher than expected.

What is the effect

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View of The Foothills with Realtor Gerry Thomasen

If you live in the mid-Island and haven't heard of The Lantzville Foothills, it means three things:

  1. You haven't been hiking enough
  2. You're not following local politics
  3. You're not planning your dream home overlooking a phenomenal view

The hiker should know this place as a beautiful system of arbutus groves and mossy lookouts.

If you followed local matters, you'd know that this development (which started and failed under different ownership during the Great Recession) has been a hot-button topic for Lantzville residents and local politics.

And anyone with the capital to build a luxurious home - with the desire to spend a little more on the SITE in order to secure a priceless view - would certainly have heard about The Lantzville

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I'm a metal detectorist, which means I look for metal objects of value or interest in the dirt, up to 10 inches deep.

There's this vacant lot in an historic part of South Nanaimo, where these houses were torn down sometime around 2015:

South Nanaimo derelict homes

In the winter of 2015/2016, I found some cool stuff in the vacant lot, using my metal detector. Here are some of the most interesting things I found:

1862 penny from England

This baby isn't in good shape, so it has no monetary value. But it's SO cool to try to imagine who dropped this coin, and when, and under what circumstances. By the way, the figure shows Britannia seated and holding a trident - very appropriate for the time!

1862 English penny

1900 US Indian Head penny

I love these coins, for some reason. I think

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This should appeal to just about everyone - have you heard? - as part of the hubbub surrounding the Rogers Hometown Hockey tour, there are a couple installations down at Maffeo Sutton Park right now (until this Sunday, Feb26).

There is FREE SKATING near the park's parking area. It's a small rink but big enough to be fun, especially for younger skaters or for people who love the park and want to say they've done everything possible, there. (Not many people can say they've skated at Maffeo Sutton - unless they're talking about before the Civic Arena was demolished!).

But the best part, I think, is the zipline that is installed and which is BY DONATION. (Donations go to a local children's cause.)

This is a rare opportunity. The zipline runs from

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The mid-Island region (and Nanaimo in particular) has seen considerable growth since the early 2000s. This was predictable in light of several local characteristics within the larger regional context:

  1. Changes to the labour pool
  2. Physical geography
  3. Vancouver's influence

A lot of resource extraction jobs vacated Nanaimo in the final decades of the 20th century. The blue-collar areas of the city decayed. Meanwhile "the suits" moved investment away from the old city, opening shopping malls and clearing large ridgetop lots north and west of Departure Bay. Many residents commented that things were too dispersed. By the 1990s, the city was spread thinly and had a clear north/south divide.

But all Nanaimo needed was more people to fill it out,

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Last year's real estate market activity was unprecedented in Nanaimo as it was in Vancouver. Prices increased as much as 13% (single family) in Nanaimo through the year, and average prices in January 2017 were up 30% from the previous January! The numbers of units sold (all residential types) also rose significantly from 2015 to 2016.

This boom appears to have been a result of a strong provincial economy, a weak dollar, population growth, and low inventory levels.

Record-low interest rates also fueled some of this activity. But in October the federal government effectively reduced how much buyers can borrow, so there may be some cooling of demand, or at least of pricing, in 2017.

But regional factors suggest a continued upward trend. Vancouver's

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The Nanaimo River Estuary is just south of downtown. The clean, rushing water scatters all kinds of sediments into the ocean to form a wide delta loved by gulls, eagles, oysters and log booms.

Three of us took to a canoe and a kayak, and explored this beautiful desolation on a sunny Sunday in February. Here's a satellite image of where we went:

Nanaimo River Estuary satellite

We started on Maki Rd by Southgate Mall, putting into the water in a narrow canal cut into a marshy area. We could see a lot of gulls congregating at the other end of this canal, so we figured it emptied into the ocean. Turns out we were right, but, not in the way we imagined.

Deploying boats in a drainage canal

The canal came to an abrupt end, narrowing into a culvert that ran under the hillside. The culvert was large enough that we

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