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Sechelt Development - Trail Bay Estates
05-01-2013, 10:24 AM, (This post was last modified: 04-13-2015, 05:31 PM by Skook.)
#1
Sechelt Development - Trail Bay Estates
[Image: attachment.php?aid=128]

I have struggled a bit with this development. As I continued to research it, the question ‘What makes a development such as this a success?’ lodged in the back of my mind. It is the mere selling of lots or is it the building of homes on those lots and establishing a thriving community? Perhaps, you will come to your own conclusions by the end of this post and share your thoughts.

Trail Bay Estates is a Clayton family development taking place on Clayton owned land. The Claytons arrived in Sechelt over 90 years ago eventually establishing the first grocery store after the Union Steamship Company stopped servicing the coast in 1959. That first venture evolved into the present day Clayton Heritage Market, an independent grocery store that anchors the Trail Bay Centre - the shopping mall owned by the Claytons. Over time, success was parlayed into land purchase most notably in West Sechelt with Trail Bay Estates occupying a lower portion bordering Hwy 101 of a long 33 hectare parcel (3,300 acres).

The public got its first look at this proposed development at the end of May, 2006. According to the Coast Reporter, 60 showed up for the unveiling - a good turnout with some, no doubt, wanting to see what the Claytons were up to. The news report goes on to say there was not one voice spoken in support of the project. A number of issues were raised including:
  • road access (it would be via Sechelt Village and not Hwy 101)
  • lack of a comprehensive development plan
  • fear Sechelt’s infrastructure would not be able to support this portion of a much larger proposed project
  • concern that the project was tied to a land donation to the local college
Issues raised by Sechelt planning staff in an earlier report included the fact that the developer had cleared the land in August, 2005 without undertaking an environmental assessment. I lay the blame for this fact squarely at the feet of the Gordon Campbell government who made sweeping changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve Act basically allowing those with private managed forest lands to do with it what they will. This would have a huge impact on Vancouver Island and is fodder for its own post in the future.

The project eventually received Council approval and with the initial land clearing long out of the way the developer needed to do some reshaping. Blasting away the rock facing the highway began in the early spring, 2007, and within days homeowners on the other side of the highway raised their voices in anger and concern as rocks rained down on their properties with one even going through a roof. Blasting issues were raised on and off for almost two years (1,100 blasts in total) eventually culminating in the blasting contractor, Rock Construction and Mining Inc. (RCMI) receiving a court imposed $5,025 fine for less than professional work and the District of Sechelt amending its ticketing bylaw enabling bylaw officers to issue tickets on the spot over blasting infractions. (Search ‘Trail Bay Estates’ at http://www.coastreporter.net for news stories)

Well, this project certainly started with a bang. The Google Earth shots below show how the development took shape over the years 2004 to 2010.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=129]

The Trail Bay Estates website (I have just discovered it is unavailable - my antivirus wasn't allowing me there a few days ago giving a Trojan virus warning - so they may be trying to correct this) made its appearance on the net in early 2008 with pictures of the first show home (Lot 44) under construction. The website also offered a site map .pdf and a list of the lots available for purchase. This site map and that lot list are shown in the image below.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=130]

The site map indicates pre-sold lots and immediate home construction (small house icon) and you can see the placement of those houses on the Sept, 2009 GE image above. The ‘gold’ on the spreadsheet indicates these pre-sold lots and an asterisk indicates where the homes would be built. As of the end of April, 2013, twelve lots have never sold: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 37, 59, 64, and 65.

What we don’t know from the site map above is who bought the lots (family, friends, developers, speculators, etc.?) and what they paid at the time. However, the spread sheet might give some idea to the initial lot pricing because there are currently three re-sale listings: lots 30, 55, 57. If they paid close to those listing prices, then they are likely facing a substantial loss if desperate to sale given the current developer pricing for unsold lots which is at least $100,000 less and the 2013 assessment values for the lots. Only the lots on Clayton Ave would be cheaper than the other 55 lots because they lack a direct ocean view.

Now you see why that question as to whether or not this development has been a success entered my mind. Out of 66 initial lots only 13 remain unsold. However, when I drove through this development back in early 2010, there were very few homes built. I am not on the coast now so how could I discover how many homes have actually been built to date? Well, I have used four methods:
  1. SCRD address map (Map 7: Sechelt - Davis Bay)
  2. Google Street views (August, 2011)
  3. ‘Sold’ and ‘For Sale’ listings
  4. Realtor Listings pictures
The SCRD address map dated 2012 offers, in my opinion, the most accurate picture because homes under construction and built are given addresses for firefighting and policing purposes and the SCRD map which is included with the spreadsheet below indicates 21 homes built by the end of 2012 (lots 31 & 33 have two address which I assume indicates a possible planned duplex, and lot 55 is for resale and the price indicates no home built). Even if ten homes were to have been built since the making of this map, it would still roughly indicate only a third of the lots have been built on.

(April 13, 2015: outdated pricing spreadsheet removed. To view new spreadsheet, click here. The best way to view it is to download it to your own computer and print it off. Right click on the image and click ‘Save image as” or something similar depending on your browser. If you use Windows, save to a picture folder. Clicking the image should open it in Windows Photo Viewer. Increase the magnification by about a 1/3 and it fits nicely across the screen. If you decide to print the spreadsheet, remove the checkmark from “Fit picture to frame” first.)

So, can you say that Trail Bay Estates has been a successful development? I know if I had bought into and built in this project I would be very upset to look out my windows day after day and see all those vacant lots now over grown with weeds. And as more and more developments come on stream and the real estate market worsens how does that affect the value of your home should you be so unhappy you wanted to sell or had to sell for any other reason. Or, what if you bought a lot hoping to flip it rather than build, what do you do now? These are all very interesting questions.

Perhaps taking a drive through the development via Google Streetview may help answer the big question. The images below start out on Hwy 101 (truly impressive introduction to the development and the weeds give it that ‘je ne sais quoi’). We’ll then move up through the development beginning on Barnacle St, to Cowrie St, to Compass Lane and finally to Clayton Ave.

To show that I have not been overly biased in my choice of screenshots, I recommend visiting Realtor Gord Clayton’s website and taking a look at his lot listing pictures. He is a third generation Sunshine Coast Clayton and has been listing these lots since the 'big bang' and if anyone would want to put this project in a positive light it would be him.

Another Realtor, Bry Nelson, lists of those expensive lot resales: Lot 30. You can view her listing pictures, too.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=132]


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Sechelt Development - Trail Bay Estates - by Skook - 05-01-2013, 10:24 AM

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