King's Wharf developer in property tax dispute with province

Partial win for Dartmouth developer in bid to reduce property taxes

The developer behind the massive King's Wharf project along Dartmouth Cove is locked in a dispute with Nova Scotia's property valuation assessor over what he feels is an unfair assessment of condos in one of the buildings.

As part of an HST review, Francis Fares hired real estate consulting firm Turner Drake to look at the assessments of 49 condominium units in the Anchorage building that he owned and was renting out as apartments.

The Anchorage is one of four buildings that make up King's Wharf. More buildings are planned.

The Turner Drake report looked at the overall condo market in Halifax and concluded that because of a "soft market" there should be a five per cent discount on the 2015 and 2016 assessments. Fares used the report to launch an appeal.

Property Valuation Services Corp. argued it based the assessments on the sales of condos within the building and it was "a reasonable estimate of fair market value."

But in June 2017, an independent third-party tribunal sided with Fares, saying he was entitled to a more "focused analysis." The decision reduced the assessments by $6.6 million for the 49 units.

Using HRM's tax rates for 2015 and 2016, that would mean a maximum savings of almost $80,946 over the two years. The specific amount depends on the impact of the province's assessment cap.

Hearing scheduled for Dec. 4

The director of assessments has appealed the decision to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.

A spokesperson for Property Valuation Services Corp. said in an email that it could not discuss the case, but said "it is not unusual for the director of assessment to appeal decisions where decisions are not reflective of market value."

The official with Turner Drake, who represented Fares at the appeal tribunal, said she could not comment while matters are unresolved.

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