A Regina businessman claims the City of Regina missed a ripe opportunity to make more money in a recent land sale.
Allen Mryglod from metal manufacturers Super Seamless of Canada says he was prepared to offer double the listed price for 22.3 acres of land on the west side of Fleet Street North, but was rejected because the city was only taking offers on a first-come, first-served basis.
“If somebody is willing to spend more on a piece of property, anybody who sells property would entertain a higher bid. You wouldn’t close it off at the first bid,” Mryglod says.
He saw an advertisement over the weekend of April 26 for the land located in the RM of Sherwood, with a sale price of $446,000. By the time he called at around 9:30 a.m. the following Monday (90 minutes after city hall opened), Mryglod was told there were already three offers ahead of his. The city was unmoved by his willingness to offer as much as $50,000 per acre, an amount pushing the total purchase above $1 million. In the end, the city took the first offer, which came in at the asking price.
“I have no problem losing something if I have a fair playing field,” Mryglod says, “meaning I bid on it, you bid more on it, I go up to a value that I feel is fair, and if I lose it after that, no problem.”
Jason Carlston, the city’s executive director of community planning and development, says the city currently uses a variety of systems for land sales, depending on demand.
For parcels in higher demand, the city has recently been selling land to the highest bidder. Carlston says this parcel didn’t quite fit into that category
“We had a parcel very similar in the same vicinity last year which sold with only one offer on it,” Carlston says. “It’s zoned agricultural. The Rural Municipality of Sherwood — because it’s not in the city — indicated that there’s no intent of rezoning it from agriculture. And it has drainage issues, so we did not think it was an attractive piece of property that would have numerous interests.”
He says the first received offer by Spoger Holdings Ltd. was accepted because it met the city’s requirements of selling the land at market value after being made publicly available.
But following all the rules doesn’t mean the city wouldn’t take a mulligan.
“We’ve moved predominantly towards the bidding process and, quite likely, if something like this came open again, it wouldn’t hurt us to take some sort of bidding process. We would take a different approach,” Carlston says.
Selling to the highest bidder isn’t always in the city’s best interest, he says.
“We try to find a balance of achieving our objectives and not unnecessarily influencing the market, because at the same time we sell some of our land, we also have to purchase land. If we drive the prices up, we end up having to purchase land as well,” Carlston says.
The first-come, first-serve system led to a judicial inquiry in the 1980s when it was discovered the senior city officials had reserved land for themselves before members of the public had the opportunity to make offers.