Small builder gets big chance

Birch­wood Prop­er­ties part of two of Cal­gary’s largest re­de­vel­op­ments

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Newcondos - MARTY HOPE

It’s been a wild six months for Birch­wood Prop­er­ties. Un­til late last sum­mer, the Cal­gary builder was qui­etly work­ing on a res­i­den­tial project in the north­west com­mu­nity of Royal Oak while at the same time build­ing in­fill hous­ing in in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties — just af­ter fin­ish­ing off a fairly large de­vel­op­ment in the west-side neigh­bour­hood of Cougar Ridge.

Then two phone calls four months apart dra­mat­i­cally changed the pro­file of the small com­pany,

The first call in Au­gust was an­swered by Jeff Chev­erie, Birch­wood’s 38-year- old pres­i­dent and CEO.

On the other end of the line was Cody Clay­ton, pres­i­dent of Rem­ing­ton De­vel­op­ments, with news that Birch­wood was to be part of Quarry Park, a high-pro­file, mixed-used de­vel­op­ment in south­east Cal­gary.

Birch­wood was se­lected to be the exclusive builder of town­homes in the ini­tial phase of multi-fam­ily constructi­on in the project, mak­ing a com­mit­ment for 60 units.

In Novem­ber, Chev­erie got the sec­ond call, this one to in­form him Birch­wood had been named by Canada Lands Co. as one of six showhome builders in Cur­rie Bar­racks.

Cur­rie Bar­racks is the fi­nal phase of the re­de­vel­op­ment of the for­mer CFB Cal­gary mil­i­tary base.

“The last six months have been a very big deal for us,” says Chev­erie from his Kens­ing­ton of­fice. “We’ve been able to land a cou­ple of high-pro­file projects and we’re very proud of that.”

De­spite the fact he knows Clay­ton per­son­ally, Chev­erie says Birch­wood still had to prove it­self in the field — dem- on­strate it can fol­low through on the pre­sen­ta­tion it laid out for Rem­ing­ton De­vel­op­ments.

“Some­times, it’s who you know that gets you in the door,” he says. “But in the long run, it’s what you do once you’re in the door that counts.”

Chev­erie’s fa­ther, Carl, started Birch­wood about 14 years ago as a pas­sive in­vestor in U.S. mar­kets.

In 1998, son Jeff came on board and learned more about the busi­ness. As he went along, he changed the firm’s di­rec­tion to­ward ac­tive de­vel­op­ment in and around Cal­gary.

While Carl has stepped back from the day-to-day op­er­a­tion of the com­pany, he con­tin­ues to be re­spon­si­ble for strate­gic and fi­nan­cial plan­ning.

He also as­sists with new ac­qui­si­tions and part­ner re­la­tions, as well as pro­vid­ing di­rec­tion to all op­er­at­ing groups of the com­pany.

“I’m pleased we’ve been named an exclusive builder in Quarry Park and I’m ex­cited about what we have planned,” says Carl. “It and Cur­rie Bar­racks are both great de­vel­op­ments.”

Jeff, who says he’s a fan of Quarry Park, calls the project one of the best mas­ter-planned busi­ness parks in Cal­gary, of­fer­ing a blend of of­fice space, re­tail, com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial, as well as plenty of green space.

Birch­wood’s plans call for two-and three-storey town­homes that will be called Boule­vard Townes of Quarry Park.

Mea­sur­ing be­tween 1,500 and 2,200 square feet and priced from the high $380,000 range, the town­homes come with steep-pitched roofs, rear-de­tached garages, decks, acrylic stucco and stone ex­te­ri­ors.

Some of the plans will have tur­rets. The town­homes have also been de­signed by NORR Ar­chi­tects Plan­ners to al­low some struc­tural op­tions to the up­per-floor lay­out.

There will be two phases, one with 38 units and the other with 22. Rem­ing­ton has also es­tab­lished strict ar­chi­tec­tural and land­scap­ing con­trols for the over­all com­mu­nity.

The on-site sales cen­tre is slated to open in April, fol­lowed by the beginning of constructi­on. Chev­erie ex­pects to have show homes ready by the fall, with oc­cu­pan­cies beginning be­fore the end of this year.

In Cur­rie Bar­racks, Birch­wood is build­ing a to­tally dif­fer­ent type of hous­ing — de­tached homes priced from $759,900 to $959,900 (in­clud­ing dou­ble- de­tached garages, land­scap­ing and fenc­ing). The com­mit­ment is for 12 lots mea­sur­ing 30 to 42 feet.

Be­cause of the high-pro­file of the com­mu­nity, Chev­erie re­cruited the help of Ron Poon of Poon McKen­zie Ar­chi­tects to de­sign the in­te­ri­ors and ex­te­ri­ors of the homes.

“The re­quire­ments at Cur­rie Bar­racks are so pre­scrip­tive. we thought it pru­dent to bring in a true ar­chi­tect,” says Chev­erie.

Plans are for constructi­on of the show homes to be­gin in the next month or so and to be open by Septem­ber.

With the able as­sis­tance of vice-pres­i­dent Aaron Ham­stead and mar­ket­ing man­ager Adele Kerr, Chev­erie sees Quarry Park, Cur­rie Bar­racks and Ci­tyLife Homes By Birch­wood as solid “step­ping stones” for the fu­ture growth of the com­pany.

Birch­wood’s goal is to be­come one of the top 10 builders in the city, mean­ing it will have to dou­ble its cur­rent pro­duc­tion — some­thing Chev­erie sees hap­pen­ing in the next two years.

This year, the cor­po­rate bud­getscalls for 115 sales.

“It’s not like we’re the new kids on the block,” he says.

“We’ve been around for 14 years, work­ing hard and mak­ing progress. Right now, Ci­tyLife is ac­tive in three com­mu­ni­ties and will have 30 pos­ses­sions this year. We might be among the big­gest in­ner-city builders in the city.”

With ev­ery­thing it has on its plate and the lat­est an­nounce­ments, Chev­erie says Birch­wood is “re-eval­u­at­ing” where it wants to be in the Cal­gary mar­ket­place.

“While we still have to show peo­ple what we can do, we have learned how to im­prove the qual­ity of the homes we build and to bet­ter tar­get our mar­kets,” he says. “We’ve proved we stack up with the big guys — now, we have to fol­low through.”

An artist’s ren­der­ing of the el­e­gant Boule­vard Townes of Quarry Park, which are to be con­structed by Cal­gary builder Birch­wood Prop­er­ties.

Con­dos in Birch­wood Prop­er­ties’ Cougar Ridge de­vel­op­ment.

From left, vice-pres­i­dent Aaron Ham­stead, mar­ket­ing man­ager Adele Kerr and pres­i­dent Jeff Chev­erie of Birch­wood Prop­er­ties.

An artist’s ren­der­ing of an up­scale de­tached home that Birch­wood Prop­er­ties plans to build within Cur­rie Bar­racks.

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