“As you can imagine developing Galway, a 2,400 acre master-planned community, requires an enormous amount of planning and is quite an undertaking.  We decided quite early to hire experts that we could rely on to support us throughout this multi-phase project.  Altus Group was first engaged for a property appraisal during the initial financing stage. The appraisal led to successful and timely financing, so it was an easy decision to continue working with them for ongoing loan monitoring and property tax consulting.”

– Craig Hippern, Chief Financial Officer, DewCor

Client Profile

Established in 2013, DewCor is a real estate development company in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. One of their current and largest development projects is Galway, a master planned community located in the west end of the City of St. John’s on 2,400 acres of land.

With a 20-year time horizon, this multi-phase development is comprised of residential, retail, light industrial/mixed use office and recreational components; and has the capacity for 5,000 new homes, a golf course, over 1 million square feet of retail and almost 150 acres of industrial space.

The Challenge

Even as a first of its kind project in Newfoundland & Labrador, Dewcor knew they had the expertise to coordinate a project of this scale, but needed to mitigate as much risk as possible by involving industry experts at key points in the process, in addition to their contractors.

Financing and Valuation

As with most projects, DewCor decided to obtain financing to begin the project; however, to secure that financing they also required the advice and guidance of an unbiased third party to make sure they were getting not only the appropriate financing but also the most suitable terms.

Loan Monitoring

In order to begin preparing the land for development, DewCor required an independent third party to monitor construction progress in the field and to verify associated loan draws on an ongoing basis.  This included soft costs and hard costs for the initial development and building of infrastructure.

Property Assessment & Taxation Consulting

Originally, the 2,400-acre property was identified by aassessments that were not reflective of Galway’s various planned property types over multiple phases. DewCor needed to work with the city to develop a phased assessment approach that would reflect the actual condition of the land to enable the City of St. John’s to provide fair and accurate assessments.

The Solution

Given the unique nature of this project there was not a ‘one size fits all’ solution that could be proposed but rather each challenge required unique consulting and creative solutions to get the best outcome for the client.

Research, Valuation & Advisory Services

Altus Group’s Research, Valuation and Advisory team was the first to be contacted by DewCor to provide both consulting and valuation services throughout the planning and construction phases. Consulting services included residential, retail and industrial market surveys, as well as data and analysis for use by the developer in their development proformas. Valuation services included the appraisal required to secure first mortgage financing.

Cost Consulting Services

After successfully achieving financing for the project, DewCor hired Altus Group to fulfill their loan monitoring needs. The Altus Group Cost team provided project loan monitoring services to the lender for construction loan advance draw requests and provided status reports at regular intervals. Site visits were conducted prior to the finalization of each report to substantiate the progress on site for the costs that were claimed.

Property Tax Services

The Property Tax team worked with DewCor with a goal of establishing fair property assessments for the multiple parcels of land on the development. To ensure equitable property tax liability throughout all phases of the project, the Property Tax team began proactive negotiations with the assessment authority. This approach was beneficial for all parties involved as the assessment authority now has a clear picture of when and how each smaller parcel of land will be developed.

The Results

Research, Valuation & Advisory Services

Despite the scope and scale of the development, the financing was achieved in a timely fashion and on their preferred terms. The RVA team was pleased to act as an unbiased third party to assist DewCor in choosing the right financing partner for this important project.

Cost Consulting Services

Altus Group’s Cost and Project Management division collaborated closely throughout the project between the lending bank and DewCor to mitigate any budgetary and cash flow issues. The Altus Group Cost team presented consolidated reporting to the bank that addressed all the lending terms required to process advances at each loan fund request.

Property Tax Services

The Altus Group property tax team worked extensively with the city and the assessment authority for over a year and half to come to a fair assessment plan that was agreeable to both the city and the client and that accurately reflected the planned development phases for various property types. Their hard work paid off for the client – they realized a reduction in assessed property taxes due to clarification in how the land was being used and developed.

Conclusion

The Galway master-planned community is one of the newest, largest and most comprehensive developments in the St. John’s area. DewCor took a completely undeveloped piece of land and transitioned it to what will become a focal point in the area and according to the developer a “new gateway to St. John’s”. Phase 1 of this project is nearly complete.  The residential component began occupancy in the summer of 2018, the light industrial / mixed use office portion opened in mid 2018, the retail portion will have stores opening in 2019 and the golf course has been operating for several years.

Altus Group is proud to have supported DewCor throughout the entire development of Phase 1 of this multi-year project and look forward to a continued working relationship over the next planned phases.