Great progress made in West End

It has been a remarkable year for REALTORS® and the real estate 

market. For the first time in the 

WinnipegREALTORS® Association’s 104-year history, the $2 billion mark was reached in MLS® sales. 

In 2007, the increases in sales and dollar volume activity  have been spread out across many MLS® neighbourhoods and price ranges, buoyed by positive market fundamentals. Of course, one size doesn’t fit all. There are many factors that make up a real estate transaction where a REALTOR®’s specialized knowledge comes into play. 

One area where REALTORS® have been directly involved in the 

last 10 years is inner-city housing 

renewal. Through the WinnipegREALTORS® Association-established Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP), 60 homes have been completely refurbished and sold to first-time home buyers. HOP with other housing stakeholders has been part of a major effort to rejuvenate Winnipeg’s West End. 

Thanks to a new Project Contribution Agreement with the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative (WHHI), HOP will be making more acquisitions and rehabilitating more homes in 2008.

HOP cannot take full credit for the turnaround occurring in the West End neighbourhood area. Other key housing organizations such as the Spence Neighbourhood Association, Lazarus Housing and the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC) have also played a role, as well as the Daniel MacIntyre/St. Matthews Neighbourhood Association, a new start-up.

The progress made in the West End over the last five years can be demonstrated statistically. The average single-family dwelling sale price in 2002 was $42,779. By the end of November this year, the average year-to-date sale price had increased to $85,240. Just as important, a  higher percentage of listings are now coming on the market and selling in a significantly shorter period of time. In 2002, the average days on market for the sales in this West End MLS® area was an astounding 114, however, this year it was only 25 days.    

One of this year’s good stories on housing renewal in the West End was the complete renovation of 580 Maryland St. The WHRC provided major funding assistance from WHHI to complete Lazarus Housing’s last project. The completion resulted in Lazarus Housing fulfilling its WHHI agreement, which can be seen as a tribute to the late Reverend Harry Lehotsky, the founder of Lazarus Housing and an individual known city-wide for his unwavering commitment to improving community life in the West End.

Here’s how WHRC project manager Stephanie Noga described the special undertaking:

“The house had sat vacant and boarded in the community for several years.  Once the city took over the property, WHRC purchased the home from the city for $1 and started the rehab process. The house was measured up, new designs were drawn and a scope of work was created.  Jacques Gauthier of  J. Gauthier and Sons was hired to carry out the construction of the new plans.  

“The house was previously a victim of neglect and fire and a perfect target for vandalism. The house was full of garbage from the previous owner/renter, the second storey had fire damage and the third storey was nothing more than a pigeon coop. Although the before photos looked daunting, it was full of potential.  

“Construction took approximately five months and we faced several unavoidable construction delays such as material deliveries. The house was broken into and the copper ground wire was stolen during construction.

“The design focused around salvaging the existing hardwood materials in the house. Although found 

in pieces, the original oak for the staircase was all resurrected and the 102- year-old fireplace mantle and pocket doors were also restored. The remaining oak was also re-used and re-configured as an entrance bench for storage and a support post for the circular island top. Wood siding from the back addition (that had to be demolished) was used to repair the original wood siding. Recycled brick was installed on the front façade where the fire damage had to be repaired.

“During construction, people from the community would stop to admire the house and were pleased to see one more ‘eye-sore’ gone.

“The house was pre-sold to parishioners of New Life Ministries (Lehotsky’s former ministry) and an effort was made to include them in the design process. It is great to know that the house went to a deserving family who has a keen interest in and has been helping support the community.

“This house was unquestionably a labour of love for me as I put in a considerable number of hours of my own free time to make sure the home turned out the way it is today. The young couple who purchased this significantly restored home definitely see it as a real blessing and know Harry’s legacy will live on in projects such as this one.

“In the true spirit of the season it is a home that will become a place of special meaning well beyond meeting one’s basic accommodation needs.”