Swipe of electronic card to unlock buyer benefits
What if you could step out of your posh downtown condominium and, with the swipe of an electronic pass card, gain free or discounted access to fitness facilities, libraries and art galleries within walking distance of home?
That’s what residents of a new four-storey seniors’ condo planned for 105th Avenue near 110th Street in Edmonton can expect, says Greg Christenson, president of Christenson Developments.
The building, named Fifth Avenue, is scheduled to open in 2012. There are also plans to build a highrise, aimed at active adults, next door.
Fifth Avenue will include such amenities as a dining room, theatre, carpentry and craft shops and an exercise room.
Several floors will be devoted to Designated Assisted Living suites for people who need some medical care, but still want to remain in their own homes.
The building will also have round-the-clock nursing staff available to all residents.
What sets this project apart from many downtown condos is the relationship Christenson has forged with surrounding institutions, in particular, nearby Grant MacEwan University.
The campus, located just north of the Fifth Avenue building, is to rename its sports facility the Christenson Family Sport and Wellness Centre. Eventually, condo residents will get group discounts there.
Christenson believes the link between his company and the university is just one example of how partnering with businesses and public institutions can give downtown residents access to a whole menu of services and attractions outside their building.
“I guess you could say we’d like to be a role model for how you capitalize on the amenities of downtown and how you make them interactive,” he says.
Besides MacEwan, Christenson has also donated to the new Art Gallery of Alberta. He hopes to give his clients half-price memberships to the gallery.
The idea of connecting residents to amenities and services near their homes is a trademark of many Christenson aging-in-place projects.
Residents of Citadel Village in St. Albert get memberships to their city’s big multi-purpose leisure centre, Servus Credit Union Place.
People who live in Railtown on the north edge of downtown use MacEwan’s exercise facilities. Those in Devonshire Village, in the city’s southwest, have access to a nearby YMCA.
In Bedford Village, part of Christenson’s Centre in the Park project in Sherwood Park, a multimillion-dollar community centre is being built by Strathcona County. It will house a public library, council chambers and a central glassedin courtyard.
Christenson has also been one of the leading proponents for the construction of linear walkways to make the downtown pedestrian-friendly.
“I’d like to see better connectivity if you want to have a walkable downtown. ... For $100 million, you could put a whole walkway system in downtown Edmonton. ... This would benefit all the developers downtown and all the property owners.”
It all helps to get people out of their homes and into the community.
“That’s one of the challenges in living in one of these retirement communities,” he says. “They may be beautiful, but for instance, the golf course may be a beautiful place to eat, but I don’t want to eat there every day. ... You get tired of running into the same 22 people.”
Fifth Avenue suites range from about $280,000 to $300,000 and are available as life-lease purchases.
That means residents buy an interest in both the property and their suite, similar to purchasing a home or condominium. Actual ownership and title of the property remains with the company.
Residents have exclusive use of their suites and shared use of all common areas and facilities. Monthly fees, similar to condo fees, are paid by residents to cover such costs as building maintenance, insurance and upkeep.
If a resident or their estate wishes to sell, much of the purchase price is refunded.
In his Fifth Avenue building, Christenson has once again designed suites that can be converted to smaller units down the road.
“You’d buy the whole unit for $300,000 and if you want to downsize, you get $150,000 back. ... So it works well where couples come in and then they downsize to a single person.”
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Greg Christenson, president of Christenson Developments.