BELT­LINE: Am­bi­tious

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Con­dos -

The most am­bi­tious pro­ject to be an­nounced over the sum­mer is The Guardian Tow­ers by Hon Tower Ltd. which has an own­er­ship link to Jager Homes.

This will be the com­pany's first ven­ture into high­rise ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. The pro­ject is a re­work of the Torode Res­i­den­tial Ltd.’s three­tower Ar­riva pro­ject, which went bank­rupt af­ter only one tower was com­pleted.

The new con­cept is for twin 42-storey condo tow­ers, each with about 320 units, that will be com­pleted in phases.

This pro­ject still needs city ap­proval. Ide­ally, con­struc­tion would start in 2012, with the first tower com­pleted in late 2013.

This site will ben­e­fit from the re- cent com­ple­tion of the 4th Street S.E. un­der­pass that will link East Vil­lage with Vic­to­ria Park and the Stam­pede.

It would also ben­e­fit from any an­nounce­ment of the com­mence­ment of the Stam­pede Trail re­tail de­vel­op­ment along 4th Street and the Na­tional Mu­sic Cen­tre, both within easy walk­ing dis­tance.

Con­naught (Belt­line West)

There are two ma­jor condo projects left over from the early 2000s boom — Oslo on 11th Av­enue at 12th Street and As­to­ria on 10th Av­enue at 9th Street.

To date, noth­ing has been an­nounced for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the As­to­ria site, but Hom­burg-cen­tron Team­works has re­worked its condo plans for Oslo into a 12-storey, mixed-use de­vel­op­ment with 372 units.

It is be­ing mar­keted as Cal­gary’s first multi-storey, green-built pro­ject.

Hom­burg-cen­tron Team­works is an­other ex­pe­ri­enced ur­ban devel­oper. Pre­vi­ous projects in­clude Churchill Es­tates in Eau Claire and Castello in the Belt­line

The com­pany also has ap­proval for an­other condo called Cristal Tower in the same area as Oslo.

If you are won­der­ing what has hap­pened to the Mid­town con­dos and the po­ten­tial of 650 units be­ing added to the mar­ket, Hom­burg-cen­tron Team­works has pur­chased this pro­ject and it looks like it is plan­ning an of­fice de­vel­op­ment, rather than res­i­den­tial.

I am very cu­ri­ous to see how Belt- line West evolves with the de­vel­op­ment of the West LRT Line.

I ex­pect sig­nif­i­cant devel­oper in­ter­est in the area around the Sunalta LRT Sta­tion west of 14th Street. Will the Sunalta de­vel­op­ment com­pete with or com­pli­ment what has al­ready hap­pened and is planned for Con­naught?

What does the fu­ture hold for the Belt­line?

The next few years will be very in­ter­est­ing for the three Belt­line dis­tricts as its pop­u­la­tion grows from 18,000 to more than 25,000.

Will 17th Av­enue evolve into an up­scale restau­rant/club/lounge row? Will the 11th Av­enue De­sign Dis­trict ma­ture into a won­der­ful re­tail/cafe shop­ping area?

Will the First Street/haultain Park/me­mo­rial Park tri­fecta take on its own iden­tity? Will Stam­pede Trail/stam­pede ex­pan­sion be­come a re­al­ity?

Will Cen­turia, Mid­town and As­to­ria be com­pleted? What im­pact will the East Vil­lage and Sunalta de­vel­op­ment have on the Belt­line?

The mar­ket for Belt­line con­dos is cur­rently fo­cused on young pro­fes­sion­als. As a re­sult, the units have been get­ting smaller and smaller, with a more ef­fi­cient use of floor space — most are in the 550 to 650 square feet range.

The goal is to price most of the units be­tween $250,000 and $350,000, where the de­mand is the strong­est.

One mar­ket that isn’t cur­rently be­ing well served in the Belt­line is the empty-nester mar­ket, which is look­ing for well-de­signed units in the 1,400 to 1,600 square foot range at a price un­der $700,000, al­low­ing such units to com­pete with in­nercity homes.

This is a dif­fi­cult mar­ket, but is one that is needed if the Belt­line is go­ing have the di­ver­sity of peo­ple needed to en­sure vi­tal­ity 18 hours per day, seven days a week (i.e., 18/7).

Young pro­fes­sional are great, but they have to work week­days and for most of them the Belt­line will be just a tem­po­rary home — in other words, once they get find a part­ner and de­cide to have a fam­ily, it will be “so long” Belt­line and “hello” sin­gle­fam­ily com­mu­nity in the sub­urbs.

If the Belt­line is to thrive as a mixed-de­mo­graphic com­mu­nity, there will have to be more di­ver­sity in the new condo de­vel­op­ments.

I am not sure the Belt­line boom is back j ust yet, but it is pos­i­tive to see some of the pre- 2007 projects are get­ting f in­ished, and some new projects are ei­ther un­der con­struc­tion or be­ing mar­keted.

How­ever, launch­ing a pro­ject for sale is the easy part — while se­cur­ing suff icient sales to get con­struc­tion started and com­pleted on time, and on bud­get, is the hard part.

CFor other Richard White col­umns, visit our web­site un­der the head­ing: ‘More News and Views.’

Cal­gary Her­ald Ar­chive

The site of the former Mid­town project as seen in 2009. Homberg-cen­tron Team­works has pur­chased the site, but is plan­ning an of­fice de­vel­op­ment.

Cal­gary Her­ald Ar­chive

An artist’s ren­der­ing of The Guardian de­vel­op­ment in the Belt­line.

Cal­gary Her­ald Ar­chive

Peo­ple re­lax in Haultain School and Park in 2009. Will the First Street/ Haultain Park/me­mo­rial Park tri­fecta take on its own iden­tity?

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