In 2008, the government of Ontario identified downtown St. Catharines as an Urban Growth Centre in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and took the first step to transforming the area when it announced it would invest in a new centre for the arts. The centre is just one infrastructure investment that the St. Catharines economic development team has fostered in recent years.
Because of the ongoing success of St. Catharines economic development, many real estate professionals see St. Catharines as the next hot spot in the Golden Horseshoe.
So, here are eight infrastructure projects that are developing business and reviving culture in the community which will ultimate lead to increases in real estate sales prices.
8 St. Catharines Economic Development Projects
1. FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre:
Opened since 2015, the $60 million centre held 450 live events in its first year, welcoming well-known acts like Matthew Good.
2. Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts:
Brock opened this $42 million downtown campus in September 2015 in partnership with the City of St. Catharines. Its purpose is to breathe new life and activity into the urban core, and stimulate the creativity and economy of the city, the region, and beyond. Because of this development, Brock University is slowly becoming a hub for the arts.
3. Meridian Centre:
A St. Catharines economic development officer called this entertainment and sports arena the third biggest investment to come out of a 2008 initiative called the Downtown Creative Cluster Master Plan. (The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts are the first two). With a price tag of $50 million, it accommodates 6000 people for concerts and events as well as 5400 for the Niagara Ice Dogs Ontario Hockey League games.
4. Niagara Wine Route:
In 2014, the Niagara Wine Route arrived in St. Catharines at Queenston and St. Paul streets. It links Niagara-on-the-Lake and west Niagara’s wineries. Because of the Niagara Wine Route, the annual 1.8 million wine country tourists who come to the region get to experience the restaurants, pubs, and boutiques in downtown St. Catharines.
5. Carlisle Street parking garage:
This $28 million structure replaced its crumbling predecessor with 600 new parking spots and an overhead passageway to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s head office. The parking garage also supports traffic flow from FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Meridian Centre, which are just a few minutes away.
6. Burgoyne Bridge:
When a 2010 engineering report said the original Burgoyne bridge would only remain safe to use for another 5–7 years, it was announced it would be replaced. At the time, Niagara’s regional chairman called it the largest infrastructure project in Niagara’s history. This new bridge is a $90 million investment that will link west St. Catharines and the urban core will be open by the end of 2016.
7. Innovate Niagara
A digital media incubator for entrepreneurs in high-growth industries, Innovate Niagara helps small businesses start, grow, and succeed. It was born from a rebranding of a previous media hub, and since 2011, it has facilitated the creation of over 145 new jobs. St. Catharines economic development manager, Brian York, said digital media is an industry with unlimited potential in the region.
The mobile service subsidiary of internet-giant Tucows recently opened a customer service centre in downtown St. Catharines, expecting to grow the company to 200 positions. When Ting was considering where to open its third branch, the company’s vice-president of customer experience said the City of St. Catharines economic development officer Marco Marino worked hard on selling him on St. Catharines. His sales pitch worked.
What does St. Catharines Economic Development Mean for Real Estate?
Because housing and residential construction are important growth drivers in the regional economy and have reached multi-year highs. With ongoing low interest rates, an improving economy and rising consumer confidence, sales gains in the area have reached double-digits. The average sale price is up about eight percent to $380,000.
Therefore, if you’re a real estate investor, it’s highly recommended that you take a serious look at St. Catharines as a city for your next investment property. With all the economic development projects listed above, as well as expansions to GO transit and the forecast of population growth, St. Catharines is most definitely going to be the next real estate hot spot in the Golden Horseshoe.