Jeff Green | Nov 24, 2005
Feature Article - November 24, 2005
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Feature ArticleNovember 24, 2005
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Frontenac Shores:A new wrinkle in theLand o' Lakes
by Jeff Green
For 30 years people in the Land o’ Lakes have been looking to the Muskoka region with alternating hope and fear. Business owners would love to see the amount of economic opportunity that cottage owners and business owners in the Muskokas enjoy, and cottage owners fear that over-development could ruin the peaceful character of the Land o’ Lakes.
Fractional Ownership is a timeshare resort concept that was pioneered in the Muskokas. Pat and Dave Storms are planning to build Frontenac Shores, modeled on this concept, in the next three or four years. If successful, it will provide a way for people to buy into cottage life without the financial or time commitment that comes with cottage ownership.
Although the concept may come from elsewhere, Pat and Dave Storm’s marketing will be all Land 0’ Lakes.
“With over 1300 feet of shoreline, and views to undeveloped crown land, privacy and tranquillity are yours to enjoy. Hike the rolling hills, swim in the pristine lake, snowshoe in hardwood forests or just relax on your porch and take in the majesty of the Canadian Shield”, reads a promotional postcard the Storms are using to promote Frontenac Shores.
The Storms plan to build 28 luxury log cottages, some two and some three-bedroom, which will be sold to as many as 336 families.
The minimum purchase is a one twelfth share of the cottage. This entitles a family to one week at the cottage during each season of the year. The week during the summer will be fixed at the time of purchase, but the other three weeks will rotate each year. There is a lot of flexibility for the use of cottage weeks. Weeks can be swapped between owners, they can be used by relatives or friends, or they can be sold or traded. “What this offers is an opportunity to have the cottage experience without a lot of the hassles,” says Pat Storms. “We all know that the cost of cottage property is rising, and there are rising taxes, maintenance costs, upkeep, and everything else. With fractional ownership, the costs are lower, the hassles are lower, and the benefits are still there."
When people buy in, they will become part owners of the Frontenac Shores Corporation which will have authority over all aspects of the development once it is completed. The Corporation’s Board of Directors will deal with maintenance costs and taxes for the entire development and members will pay annual service fees.
“That’s one of the big differences between Frontenac Shores and other timeshares. As developers, we will not end up owning any part of the development, it will be completely owned by the Not For Profit Corporation,” said Dave Storms.
It’s been ten years since Pat and Dave Storms purchased Twin Pines Resort on Mississagagon Lake, about halfway between Cloyne and Ardoch on Road 506. When they purchased Twin Pines, the resort included 33 seasonal trailer sites, many within a few feet of the lake, 18 cabins, and a small restaurant.
A couple of years into owning the business, Pat and Dave began to realise that instead of growing, their business was slowly slipping. They began to look around for a way to expand their business, and the only way to do that was to extend their season. Like so many seasonal businesses in the region, they were finding that only July and August were profitable.
They had thoughts of splitting up their land, selling parts of it off to trailer owners, and working towards co-op ownership, but then had second thoughts.
Finally two years ago they attended a seminar in Orillia on fractional ownership of cottages, a derivation of the timeshare vacation model but with ownership elements of a traditional condominium model, and their lives haven’t been the same since.
In taking Frontenac Shores from the concept stage to the point where site plan approvals are being sought from the township of North Frontenac, the health unit and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Pat and Dave Storms have had to hire architects, planners and consultants. The have worked with a well established builder, Confederation Log homes, to develop a log home that both fits into the surrounding landscape and provides luxury accommodations, including indoor saunas in some models.
But they haven’t been working in a vacuum. “The Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation has been a great support to us, providing a loan for marketing and all kinds of practical and moral support. We have also been helped by the Land O”Lakes Tourist Association for help in marketing and for financial support through the OSTAR-rebate program. The Storms have also invested all the resources they have been able to get their hands on, into the project.
“That’s the way these things are done.” says Dave Storms, “Development companies that come in to back projects like this expect you to have put everything you have into it first.”
Frontenac Shores promises to be a very large construction project. If it becomes fully subscribed, it will mean $5 million worth of construction per year, with a total construction budget of $13 million. Presently, in the entire township of North Frontenac, about $5 million worth of construction is completed in a good year.
The construction project will create jobs for the trades and business for local suppliers, and once the project is complete 15 full time jobs will be created to maintain the resort. Because the timeshares all include fall, winter, and spring months, Frontenac Shores will bring something in the area has been wishing to have for many years, year round tourism.
But no construction can begin until some selling is done. The Storms continue to jump through bureaucratic hoops as they solidify their plans, and they understand that all levels of government are cautious where new developments are concerned, particularly lakefront developments.
“This is an entirely new kind of project for North Frontenac, and the township is being very careful that no mistakes are made, which is understandable. It is a new thing for all of us,” said Dave Storms. “What we are planning, however, will be a great improvement to the environment, the shoreline will be improved, fish habitat will be improved, and proper setbacks will be established where they were not in place before.”
Last month North Frontenac asked for some further steps to be taken before granting Approval in Principle for the plan of subdivision that was presented to them by Dave and Pat Storms, and once that takes place an aggressive marketing campaign will be undertaken.
In order to begin construction on the first 8 cottages, the first stage of the development, 50 four week units must be sold, just about half of the available spots.
In developing this new concept, Twin Pines has been wound down over the past year or so. The restaurant, never a money maker for the Storms, has been closed, and at the end of this summer season the trailer sites were eliminated. All that remains are the cabins, and several of those are slated to be torn down within the next year as construction is to begin on Frontenac Shores.
“We’ve passed the point of no return on this thing,” said Pat Storms, “we have to go ahead with it now.”
If all goes as planned, construction will begin on Frontenac Shores in about a year’s time.