Condos: Would they be so bad, really?

SANDUSKY It's a multi-million-dollar question: What will the increasing number of new condos mean for Sandusky? There
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



It's a multi-million-dollar question: What will the increasing number of new condos mean for Sandusky?

There are currently 56 condos for sale in the city, according to the Firelands Association of Realtors. That number doesn't take into account independent sellers.

Residential condominiums are a major component of the Marina District project slated to be on November's ballot, and Water Tower Development Corp. has proposed a $6 million project for the Deep Water Marina property, which would also include residential condominiums with access to the waterfront.

The state recently awarded $3 million for the environmental clean-up of the Deep Water Development property, which is part of the Paper District on Shoreline Drive.

Ruth DeHenning, executive officer of the Firelands Association of Realtors, said she believes condos are becoming more popular as people become increasingly busy with family and work and have less time for upkeep of a house and yard. Last year, 24 condos were sold in the city, DeHenning said.

Many of the condos built are targeted at different audiences, said Jeff Krabill of Lake View Condominiums on Water Street overlooking Sandusky Bay.

"The demographics are everywhere," said Lou Hibbard, real estate agent for the Chesapeake Lofts in downtown Sandusky and Point Retreat Condominiums on the east end of the Cedar Point Chaussee.

Hibbard,of Geneva Chervenic Realty, estimated that 50 percent of the Chesapeake Loft condo owners are from Sandusky or the near vicinity.

The Chesapeake Lofts are part of the larger Paper District revitalization program. The building was formerly owned by the Hinde and Dauch Paper Co.

According to Chuck Davis, president of Mid-States Development, there are 33 condos left to sell of the nearly 200 units in the Chesapeake Lofts. The condos at Chesapeake range from $175,000 to $225,000, Davis said.

"I think there is a tremendous need," Davis said. "It's a phenomenal boost for the city of Sandusky."

Frank Corder of Re/Max Quality Real Estate, Sandusky, said he believes the condos are and will continue to be marketable in Sandusky.

Corder said there's always a demand for new housing, especially as the baby boomer generation continues to retire.

"It's a lifestyle," Davis said of the condominiums. "You have zero maintenance, and you're looking at a gorgeous view."

Still, some have questioned whether all of the new condo projects could be too much of a good thing.

Market professionals don't seem to think so.

Rob Routh of Coldwell Banker Routh Realty said there's no threat of the market becoming saturated within the next few years.

Krabill added that many of the new condo developments won't actually be on the market for years.

The condos of the Water Tower Development project are still years down the road.

"We're never going to have 1,200 condos for sale all in the same week," Krabill said.

"I think the city absolutely can support them," Lance Warner said of Sandusky's condos. Warner owns and manages real estate properties in Sandusky's downtown.

Warner added that real estate developers have to conduct market studies before beginning a project; they don't go into development blindly.

"We put $2 million-plus on the line," Krabill said. "You don't do that frivolously."

Three of Lakeview's 10 residential units have already been sold. The condos at Lakeview range anywhere from $220,000 to $570,000 depending on size and whether the units are rough or finished.

Krabill said all of the developers have done their research, and they recognize a market opportunity when they see one.

"No one expects that they will all be used by local people," Krabill said of the condos. Krabill added the exciting part is that new people will be coming into the community, bringing with them new money.

"There are so many opportunities in the community right now," Warner said.