Housing project makes a return

Sidney townhome work resumes after years of financial trouble

Project manager George Schell speaks with Sidney Mayor Lary Cross and councillor Steve Price during a tour of a renewed housing development in town on April 28.

When the Kustermann family bought into a townhouse development project on Bowerbank Road in Sidney, they had thought of it as an investment.

Their willingness to stick to that investment took on a new dimension when the economy took a nosedive in 2008. When the market dried up, the project stalled. The land was cleared and construction work had begun, says George Schell of Allanda Consulting. But in 2011, the project went into receivership and its assets were frozen.

Schell, who is the project manager acting on behalf of the company overseeing the receivership, said it’s to the family’s credit that once the previous developer left the project, they did not. They have continued to work with the Town of Sidney as well, to accommodate the delay in construction.

As of August last year, Schell said the assets were transferred to the Kustermann family, led by Hubert Kustermann. Today, the work has resumed with a new development company and with the continued commitment of the Kustermanns, it should be complete by October of 2013.

Sidney town councillors, the mayor and staff toured the site of the East Shore Village, as the project is known today, with the various construction representatives. Led by Schell, they saw the work being done to complete a job left stagnant when the economy went bad.

Mayor Larry Cross said while the work started before he became mayor, the council stayed involved with the Kustermanns. They also faced upset neighbours of the property, concerned over a lack of progress and what had become an empty eyesore.

“We always told people what we knew,” he said. “People were always wondering when the project would resume.”

Cross said the fact the Kustermann stuck with it, speaks volumes to their integrity.

“It took courage for the family to keep the project and not walk away,” Cross said.

Schell noted that the family will take a signiificant loss in its inital investment in the development.

“They knew this,” he explained, “but decided to stay and create affordable housing for families in Sidney. The integrity of these people is tremendous.”

Hubert Kustermann had flown in to Sidney from Germany onthe day of the tour, but was ill and could not be there.

Construction crews are again busy on the site, building 47 strata lots with capacity for additional flex-units, or smaller, more affordable homes. The price range is $199,000 to $575,000 — meaning there will be a mix of families on the property once its complete. And that’s expect to be in October of this year.

“This has been a tough project for the town,” Cross said. “But this is an ideal conclusion to a difficult sitiuation.”