The Duke bets on Drake
British-based company undertakes Drake condo project in Beltline
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.