The Duke bets on Drake

Bri­tish-based com­pany un­der­takes Drake condo project in Belt­line

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - MARTY HOPE

At the best of times, un­der­tak­ing the devel­op­ment of a high­rise project is noth­ing to be taken lightly. So you can imag­ine the thought pro­cesses that must have taken place when Grosvenor, a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional landowner and de­vel­oper, de­cided to add a res­i­den­tial tower of its own to Cal­gary’s chang­ing sky­line.

“We wouldn’t be do­ing this on a whim,” says Jay­dan Tait, se­nior devel­op­ment man­ager for Grosvenor’s op­er­a­tions in Cal­gary.

The Bri­tish-based com­pany has al­ready started mar­ket­ing Drake — a 17-storey, 135-suite res­i­den­tial tower at Sev­enth Street and 15th Av­enue S.W.

The project is to be in the Belt­line district. It will be un­der con­struc­tion next year.

The com­pany is headed by the cur­rent Duke of West­min­ster, Ger­ald Grosvenor.

Be­cause of its ex­pan­sive hold­ings around the world, the com­pany has ex­pe­ri­ence with the ups and downs of the global mar­ket and var­i­ous economies, says Tait.

“The present Duke of West­min­ster has per­son­ally been through sev­eral re­ces­sions, un­der­stands the sit­u­a­tion and what im­pact they can have,” says Tait.

With a devel­op­ment per­mit firmly in its grasp for the past cou­ple of years, Grosvenor de­cided to hold back con­struc­tion un­til it was more com­fort­able with the mar­ket.

While wait­ing for signs of re­turn­ing eco­nomic strength, the com­pany stud­ied the changes it saw in the pro­file of home buy­ers — what they wanted and what they were will­ing to pay for what they wanted.

“It be­came all about value, bang for the buck and lo­ca­tion,” says Tait. “Drake is for the per­son who likes style, value and lo­ca­tion — all cru­cial el­e­ments in at­tract­ing to­day’s buy­ers.”

By watch­ing the mar­ket­place and study­ing buy­ers, Grosvenor also de­cided to move Drake up in the list of pri­or­i­ties, shift­ing an­other two-build­ing res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment down.

Drake had orig­i­nally been ap­proved for 98 units.

But to im­prove value — with the co-op­er­a­tion of both city and com­mu­nity of­fi­cials — plans were re­jigged about a year ago to pro­vide an ex­tra 37 units.

“We didn’t change the foot­print of the build­ing or change our spec­i­fi­ca­tions, we just re­duced the size of the suites we are of­fer­ing,” says Tait.

The av­er­age size of units is now 650 square feet — about 200 square feet smaller than orig­i­nally planned.

Drake will of­fer stu­dio suites, along with one-and two-bed­room suites, four pent­houses and seven two-level town­houses that will face both the av­enue and street.

Prices will range from about $159,900 for the stu­dio units to the $250,000 to $350,000 range for one-and two-bed­room units. Pent­houses and town­houses will be priced at more than $500,000.

“We want to pro­vide hous­ing that is ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able,” says Tait. “More than 50 per cent of our suites are un­der $300,000.”

Tait sees a strong cross­sec­tion of con­sumers tak­ing ad­van­tage of prices, the ef­fi­cient de­signs of the suites and the high-qual­ity ameni­ties — ev­ery­one from younger ur­ban pro­fes­sion­als and down­town work­ers to empty nesters and in­vestors.

“We be­lieve there is a mar­ket and a pent-up de­mand in the down­town mar­ket for some­thing that is af­ford­able,” he says.

With mar­ket­ing of the project less than a month old and with a build-out date of 2013, 200 reser­va­tions have al­ready been reg­is­tered, says Tait.

Drake’s lo­ca­tion lets peo­ple en­joy the life­style and ben­e­fits of the area but “within a res­i­den­tial set­ting,” he says.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, Grosvenor will be open­ing a sales cen­tre at 850 16th Av­enue S.W.

An artist’s ren­der­ing of the 17-storey, 135-suite Drake condo tower by Grosvenor.

The Duke of West­min­ster dur­ing a visit to Cal­gary in 2008.

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