Home Team Leaders Products News & Research Contact Us Related Sites Site Map Search Client Area
    Newsletters  |  Research  |  Media Centre  |  Surveys  |  TDP Trends  |  Case Studies  |  Careers  |  Quality Ratings  |  Blog  



Turner Drake & Partners Ltd.
6182 North Street
Halifax, N.S.
B3K 1P5
Canada

Tel.: (902) 429-1811
Toll Free: (800) 567-3033
Fax.: (902) 429-1891

Suite 221
12 Smythe Street
Saint John, N.B.
E2L 5G5
Canada
Tel.: (506) 634-1811

Suite 11
109 Richmond Street
Charlottetown, P.E.
C1A 1H7
Canada
Tel.: (902) 368-1811

35 York Street
St. John's, N.L.
A1C 5M3
Canada
Tel.: (709) 722-1811

4th Floor
111 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON.
M5C 1S2
Tel.: (416) 504-1811

E-Mail: tdp@turnerdrake.com
Internet: www.turnerdrake.com

Sign In
Twitter Facebook Linked In




# Monday, March 30, 2020


In light of ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are writing to update you on how these recent events are affecting our work. Overall, you should know that Turner Drake & Partners Ltd. is adapting to the situation and we remain open and available to assist you with your real estate needs.

The effort to slow the progression of COVID-19 is of critical importance, and we are proud to do our part. Turner Drake is following the most current recommendations and direction from the appropriate government authorities, and has taken steps to ensure the safety of our personnel and clients. This means we are conducting our operations in new ways, including implementing flexible and remote working options for staff, enacting stricter office cleaning and hygiene protocols, and practicing social distancing when staff are present in the office. It also means we are modifying our procedures for how we serve our clients, including minimizing in-person meetings, making greater use of teleconference and screen sharing systems for interactions, and working with you to implement proper sanitation and distancing practices when our work takes us to your site. The Client Area of our website allows you order new jobs, monitor the progress of existing assignments, and transfer large files through the Drop Box option (don’t worry—our Client Area has a password recovery tool if you have misplaced yours). If you do not yet have access to our Client Area, you can also order new jobs through the “Contact Us” portion of our website www.turnerdrake.com. If you would like to meet in person, please contact us in advance so we can make arrangements.

Turner Drake’s mission is to help solve your real estate problems, and we will continue to live up to that while also rising to this public health challenge which demands action from us all. Our consultants are proactively contacting clients where these new practices will impact ongoing assignments, and we welcome any questions you may have currently, or in the future as this situation evolves. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation, and we promise to extend the same as all of us adjust to this unprecedented and rapidly changing situation.

Best wishes and good health.

Monday, March 30, 2020 12:14:06 PM (Atlantic Standard Time, UTC-04:00)  #    -
Atlantic Canada | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Turner Drake
# Thursday, March 12, 2020

Just how important is proper fire safety planning?  In addition to potential loss of life and property damage, lack of proper Fire Safety Plans can land you with a hefty fine…or even potential jail time!

Section 2.8 of the National Fire Code of Canada states that any building required by the National Building Code to have a fire alarm must also have an approved Fire Safety Plan. Halifax Regional Municipality By-law F100 also states that, “Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with these regulations or fails to carry out an order made under these regulations, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $5000, or in default of payment of the fine, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months”.

Concerned? Turner Drake’s Lasercad® Division can prepare two types of Fire Plans to help manage your properties’ fire safety concerns: Fire Emergency Plans and Fire Exit Plans.

Pictured below are examples of both types of plans prepared for a local client. Fire Emergency Plans provide a detailed layout of each floor in a building, showing the location of all demising walls, doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, etc. In addition to providing a detailed layout of the space, Fire Emergency Plans indicate the precise location of all implements relevant to fire safety. The lower ground floor of a Halifax Heritage Building pictured below illustrates the exact location of all fire safety devices on the floor, such as Fire Extinguishers, Smoke Detectors, Exit Signs, Pull Stations, etc.

Fire Exit Plans are prepared to show the general layout of a floor’s common area accessible to the general public, and indicate key features necessary to ensure a safe evacuation in the event of a fire. Pictured below is a Fire Exit plan prepared for the ground floor of the same building.  The plan clearly indicates the location of the Fire Exit Plan, marked “You Are Here”.  Additionally, it shows readers the location of all Pull Stations in the event these must be activated to trigger the building’s fire alarm. Most importantly, Fire Exit Plans guide readers to safety via proper evacuation routes while also highlighting all emergency exits, and applicable Muster Points for the assembly of building occupants at a safe distance from the building.

If your building exceeds 3 storeys and does not currently have Fire Emergency or Fire Exit Plans please give us a call. Our Lasercad® team would be happy to discuss how we can help improve your building’s Fire Safety while also answering any questions you may have regarding local safety requirements.



Andrew Savoy is a consultant in our Valuation Division and is heavily involved in many of our Lasercad® projects. For more information about our range of Lasercad® services, including Fire Safety Plans, feel free to contact Andrew at (902) 429-1811 or asavoy@turnerdrake.com
Thursday, March 12, 2020 10:33:01 AM (Atlantic Standard Time, UTC-04:00)  #    -
Atlantic Canada | Lasercad | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Turner Drake
# Monday, March 2, 2020

As a child I imagined what it would be like to score a goal for the home team in a sold out stadium.  The deafening sound of tens of thousands of fans celebrating my efforts was amazing.  I still have a passion for sport, but by day, my passion is property tax so I read with interest some recent reports on how a handful of pro sports franchises significantly reduced their property tax bills.  The Montreal Canadians, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers had their property tax bills slashed by 40%, 50% and 56% respectively.  Chances are your business doesn’t occupy a stadium, but there are tax lessons to be learned for any businesses that owns or occupies a Special Purpose Property.      

Special Purpose Properties are properties that are designed in a way that makes them good for a single use.  Some uses (like hotels) appeal to a broad array of investors, but others appeal to a very limited market making them difficult to value.  Stadiums obviously fall in this category but so do churches, schools, power plants, hospitals, and most purpose built manufacturing facilities.

The most common method for estimating the tax assessment of a limited market, special purpose property is the cost approach.  You start by estimating how much it would cost to construct the improvements, deduct allowances for all forms of depreciation and then you add the land value.  Simple enough.  So how is it possible that Bank of America Stadium (the home of the Carolina Panthers) can have estimates of its value ranging from $87m to $472m? 

It’s because valuation experts will differ in how they account for “all forms of depreciation”.  Physical depreciation is readily understood, however properties can also suffer from functional and/or external depreciation. Although a stadium, pulp mill, food processing plant, church or hospital may have been meticulously maintained, it may be subject to significant amounts of functional and external depreciation if its configuration is sub-optimal, if it is poorly located, or if the economic prospects for which it was built have deteriorated in some way- all of which are grounds for a reduction in its assessed value.

The Bell Centre in Montreal opened in 1996.  It cost roughly $240m to construct (roughly $485m today).  The land is currently assessed at just over $50m and the total assessment now stands at $167m.  This implies a total depreciation from all causes of approximately 75%. Only a small amount (+/-1/3rd) of this relates to physical depreciation as stadiums can have very long physical lives.  Anfield, Old Trafford, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field are all more than 100 years old so the key to accurately estimating the total depreciation in a stadium (or any other special purpose property) is in identifying and quantifying functional and external depreciation. Unfortunately there aren’t any tables an assessor can use to estimate these forms of depreciation.  It requires an understanding of why the property was configured the way it is, how it would be configured were it to be re-built from scratch, and an understanding of the location and economic factors that apply to the use it was designed for.

During my career, consulting on behalf of taxpayers I’ve often heard the argument from assessing authorities “the owner is using it for the purpose in which it was built” and/or “the business is very successful” which leads to the question “how can there be significant functional and/or external depreciation.” In the Panthers case it’s true the stadium was being used for the purpose in which it was built.  It’s true that the business is viable (David Tepper acquired the Panthers including the stadium for $2.2b in 2018) but those are the wrong questions.  The right question is “would the business be worth more if it had the right stadium in the right location?”

The right stadium might have more seats, more private boxes, more places to sell advertising and might cost less to operate.  It might also be built in a location to make commuting easier so more fans buy tickets and spend more on concessions while they are at the game.  The same concepts hold true for any special purpose property.  A church located distant from its parishioners, a school with declining enrolment, a power plant compelled to use high priced coal, and a poorly configured manufacturing plant located too distant from its markets or its raw materials can all suffer from functional and/or economic depreciation.    

2020 property assessment notices are rolling out across Canada (New Brunswick is up next!).  If you own or occupy a special purpose property, make sure you ask the right questions when you decide if it’s time to request a review this year.  

  

Andre Pouliot is Vice President of our New Brunswick operations and Senior Manager of our Property Tax Division. For more information about our property tax services, feel free to contact Andre at (902) 429-1811 or apouliot@turnerdrake.com

Monday, March 2, 2020 10:38:48 AM (Atlantic Standard Time, UTC-04:00)  #    -
Atlantic Canada | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Property Tax | Turner Drake
# Friday, January 17, 2020

CMHC has just released its annual rental market survey data, and the results are concerning for the Halifax Regional Municipality. After 2018’s record low vacancy, we’ve been eagerly waiting to see whether supply or demand would win the race this past year as both construction and population growth continue their fevered pace. Unfortunately for renters, it looks like demand has again won. With new supply undershooting by 280 units over the year, the overall vacancy rate has now plummeted from 1.6% to a new record low of 1.0% in 2019.

While the challenge of finding an apartment is stressful enough, unfortunately for renters the bad news doesn’t stop there. Vacancy rates are a leading indicator for rental rates, and this year’s results show the first hard evidence that tight market conditions are translating into price increases within the existing rental stock. Once the competition for limited available units heats up, price increases kick in as the market begins rationing too little supply among too much demand. While the statistics of overall average or median rents have been on the rise for a number of years, this has largely been driven by the addition of new, more expensive buildings to the rental pool. Yearly increases in existing buildings were muted, proceeding at around 2% per year even in record-setting 2018. However, thanks to the knock-on effects of that year’s diminutive vacancy rate, same-building rents in 2019 show an increase of 3.8%. This is nearly double the historical average, and the largest single-year increase on record. The 2019 vacancy rate of 1.0% therefore does not bode well for renters in this year to come. Things are going to get worse before they have a chance to get better!

On that note, what is it going to take for things to get better? Despite record-levels of construction in the purpose-built rental sector, the market supply is not growing fast enough to meet demand (hence the reduction in vacancy). Based on average figures for the last 3 years, the period where population growth has driven vacancy below its typical range, the calculations are humbling. HRM would need to increase the supply growth rate by about 13%, delivering an extra 230 units per year, just to stabilise the vacancy rate and keep up with the growth in demand. Of course, holding vacancy at 1% won’t help with prices. In order to return the market to a reasonable 3% vacancy rate, there would have to be a further increase of 23%, another 410 units per year, and this would have to be sustained for the next 3 years in order to get back to balanced market territory.

Multiunit starts were up in 2019, but only by 15%. This is an industry already at record activity levels and it strains to push the pace further. Additionally, provincial level data is suggesting HRM’s population growth may still be accelerating. As a result, odds are that a sufficient increase in the growth of rental supply is not about to materialise in the short term to provide relief.

So what solace can we offer? Well, it’s not much to take to the bank, but we may be seeing the start of demand-side trends that could help blow off some pressure. Much of the population growth pressure is driven by new people arriving in the city from elsewhere in the province, county, and world. Having a few years under their belt now, not-quite-so-recent migrants and non-permanent residents could start to flow out of the rental sector. Having found their feet, these groups may look to transition into the homeownership market as they seek to become more established (or, in the case of international students, simply move away as their studies conclude). Of course, there are also domestic trends to consider as well, and while rental demand growth from downsizing boomers is unlikely to relent, an increasing number of millennials are aging into their prime home buying years.

Often lost in the rental housing conversation is the fact that despite the frenzy of apartment construction, HRM has actually not built very much housing in the last few years overall. Unlike other Canadian cities where a surge of rental construction has come only after owner-occupied markets launched out of financial reach, HRM’s rental supply is the first preference for many. This means rental housing has been voraciously consumed at the same time that homebuilders have struggled to find demand for their available lots. As a result, the explosion of apartment construction has been largely offset by a drop in subdivision development.

Perhaps things are turning around, however. This past year may have heralded disappointment for renters, but it provided encouragement for owners; price action in the resale market showed strength that we haven’t seen since the early 2010s, and with it came an uptick in new construction activity as well. Is this evidence that some of HRM’s recent population growth is starting to flow from the rental sector into ownership?

This would certainly be good news for the homebuilding industry, which has been a shadow of itself for several years. It would also be good news for those still in the rental market, as a revived owner-occupied market would ease pressure on rentals by siphoning off some of the housing demand. Further, reactivating the idle resources in the homebuilding sector is an easier means of increasing the growth rate in total housing supply than hoping for the multiunit sector to conjure up a significant escalation in their maxed out production levels. 



Turner Drake is engaged in Housing Needs Analyses from coast to coast. To see how your community can benefit from the unique expertise of our Planning and Economic Intelligence team, call Vice President Neil Lovitt at (902) 429-1811 or nlovitt@turnerdrake.com.

Friday, January 17, 2020 3:16:50 PM (Atlantic Standard Time, UTC-04:00)  #    -
Atlantic Canada | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Planning | Prince Edward Island | Turner Drake
# Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I recently read an article by the CBC entitled “From sacred to secular: Canada set to lose 9,000 churches, warns national heritage group.”  The article discusses shrinking congregations as member’s age, move away or switch to new spiritual practices.  The article notes that in Eastern New Brunswick alone the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for example predicts that 20 of its 53 parishes will likely close if the congregations can’t find a way to generate more money.  With less money coming in and higher maintenance and operating costs churches face a challenging future.  

This article resonated with me on a professional level and personally as a member of a local church.  In the past few years our firm has been contacted by a number of churches, in particular church committees made up of congregation members.  These committees are assigned the unenvious task of exploring what to do with their beloved church as it faces the challenges of a shrinking congregation.

The common questions asked by committee members to aid in their decision making include:

  • Scenario #1: What is the value of the church as it currently operates?
  • Scenario #2: What is the value of the underlying land as a redevelopment?
  • Scenario #3: What if the church were sold for an adaptive re-use, what would it be worth?

Essentially the committees want to determine the Highest and Best Use of their property, with values determined for each scenario so they can be make an informed decision, and ultimately present it to their congregation. 

Churches serve a number of roles for their community.  Outside of Sunday church services and funerals they are used as polling stations, a place of refuge after disasters, a place for private and not-for-profit groups to meet, a venue for concerts, fundraiser dinners and suppers and a place for performing arts to operate out of.  While church layout and design elements vary between denominations the fundamental church layout is fairly consistent.  Typically it includes a large entrance lobby, a sanctuary, parlour, large multi-use hall together with a kitchen and a number of smaller rooms used for meetings and general storage.  They tend to have several large, wide-open areas with high ceilings together with a large number of smaller classrooms.  As a result of their special purpose design they are challenging to value.

Scenario #1 - determining the Market Value of a church as it currently operates may not be as hard as it sounds.  There are numerous examples of church properties that have sold to other congregations for continued use as a church. 

Scenario #2 – determining the value of the underlying land for redevelopment is more challenging.  Often times the property has an institutional zone assigned to it, reflecting its current use.  However, this doesn’t necessarily limit the property to its current use.  It can often be re-zoned and redeveloped for a more intensive use.  Exploring this scenario involves discussions with the local planning authority, and in the end professional judgement is needed.  In addition to re-zoning, heritage designation issues, service and utility easements on the parcel and demolition costs for the existing building must be explored and considered under this scenario.     

Scenario #3 considers the value of the church for an adaptive re-use.  This can certainly be the most challenging scenario to consider when determining value.  The question here is “does the existing building actually provide additional, measurable value?”  Older buildings often have a lot of character and heritage value.  However, the cost for repairs and maintenance for these older buildings can be substantial.  They typically have masonry exterior walls with decorative features that require a lot of maintenance.  Their walls are often load bearing, meaning they cannot be easily reconfigured for another type of use without substantial structural work.  In addition they typically sit on expensive land, located in more central downtown locations with increasing pressure on land values.  All of these things can point to demolition of the existing church to make way for a new development.  However, that’s not always the case.

Recently I completed an assignment for a registered heritage property in Halifax.  The Centre Plan envisioned a low-density residential use for the property.  However, Package A contained significant implications for the property as it contains policy applicable to registered heritage properties.  This general policy allows for consideration of new development via discretionary approval processes (a “Development Agreement”) rather than zoning.  The overarching goal of the municipality is to encourage the rehabilitation and retention of heritage buildings. In order to do this, they will support a significant amount of new development intensity on sites containing a heritage building, using this as a tool to create sufficient value that the required conservation measures can be accommodated within an economically feasible project. This opens the possibility for significant building height and floor area ratios, as well as consideration of other cost-savings, such as lower parking requirements.

In that instance, the cost involved with demolishing the existing building coupled with only low-density anticipated for the site meant that demolition of the building was not the best option.  Alternatively, retaining the existing structure, or a substantial portion of it under policy contained within Package A of the Centre Plan opened up the possibility for significant building height and floor area ratios, as well as consideration of other cost-savings, such as lower parking requirements.  This second option meant a higher value for the property.  In that instance the best option was retaining the existing building for an adaptive re-use as part of a larger development.

The take-away here is that valuing churches or special purpose properties is not a straightforward exercise.  With shrinking congregations and higher operating costs these types of assignments are becoming increasingly more common.  They can be complicated and require a team approach to valuing the property with assistance from planners with a solid understanding of the Centre Plan.

 

For more information on the valuation services we provide visit our Valuation and Advisory Services site https://www.turnerdrake.org.



Nigel Turner, Vice President of our Valuation Division, can be reached at nigelturner@turnerdrake.com

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 11:57:24 AM (Atlantic Daylight Time, UTC-03:00)  #    -
Atlantic Canada | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Turner Drake  | Valuation