Developer making its Mark in Calgary
Condo tower planned for Beltline
While downtown Vancouver and Toronto developers and condo owners worry about a market crash, there seems to be little concern in Calgary.
But this is not surprising, given factors such as the continued strong job market as evidenced by the continued construction of downtown office towers.
Two million square feet of office space currently under construction — the City Centre, 8th Avenue Place and Centre 10 projects — will accommodate more than 7,000 new workers.
If 15 per cent of these people decide to live downtown, that is demand for 1,000 new condos.
I recently chatted about the Calgary condo market with Parham Mahboubi of Vancouver, who is vice-president of marketing and new developments for QualexLandmark.
I was surprised to learn the company currently has no active projects in Vancouver. Instead, it is focusing all its efforts on Calgary’s Beltline.
Qualex-Landmark will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in the Calgary real estate market next year.
comes of age
When asked about the company’s interest in the Beltline, Mahboubi responds: “We love the mix of old and new, big and tall buildings. It is an established neighbourhood. You don’t have to wait a decade for the community to mature as you do in East Village or Victoria Park.
“We love the mix of restaurants, shops, grocery stores and proximity to the street life of 17th Avenue, the Design District and Stephen Avenue. It is already an urban community.”
While Qualex-Landmark is headquartered in Vancouver, it arguably has been the most active condo builder in Calgary during the past 10 years — starting first with Stella in 2004 followed by Nova in 2006 and Luna in 2009, all on 12th Avenue across from Connaught School.
The company’s current Calla condo project near the Lougheed House has been a huge success, with only four of 168 units left after just one year of marketing.
It comes as no surprise then that Qualex-Landmark has already announced its next project called Mark on 10th, which will be on the corner of 8th Street and 10th Avenue S.W.
It will be on the site of the old Western Canadian Graphics building next to the abandoned Astoria condo project.
Making its Mark
When asked where the name Mark on 10th came from, Mahboubi says “the name really is Mark — the 10th has been added for marketing purposes. It is a play on our name, Landmark.
“While we are proud of the building, we thought it would be pretentious to call it Landmark, but we do hope it will help us make our ‘mark’ on the skyline of Calgary.”
The project is being designed by the same team that has done all the company’s Calgary condos — Raffi Ar- chitects in Vancouver, with BKDI architects in Calgary.
At 34 storeys, this will be Qualex-Landmark’s largest and tallest Calgary condo to date.
It will be unique in that it is more of a mixed-use project, with retail space at street level to continue the pedestrian retail orientation of 8th Street.
There will be offices on the second floor and a 17,000-square-foot garden space on the roof of the podium.
The sleek, edgy condo design will be unique in that it won’t have any penthouse units. Instead, the rooftop will be an amenity area containing a hot tub, barbecue and sun bathing area for residents.
Architecturally, there will be a structural twist at the very top, adding visual curiosity to downtown Calgary’s ever-evolving skyline.
The lobby will also have a prominent artwork by a major artist, adding character to the building and further enhancing the pedestrian experience along the 8th Street corridor that links 17th Avenue with 7th Avenue.
Qualex-Landmark wants the project’s architecture and art to enhance the reputation of the area as Calgary’s Design District.
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In chatting about the Calgary condo market, I learned 60 per cent of Qualex-Landmark’s condo sales are to young professionals and 40 per cent to inves- tors.
Mahboubi informed me that when comparing the Calgary market to Vancouver’s, “we are seeing a lot of similarities, but we’ve found slightly more young buyers in Calgary, whereas you find slightly more investors and empty nesters in Vancouver.
“I expect it is just a matter of time before both markets become undistinguishable from a demographic standpoint.”
When asked about the market in Calgary for larger units for empty nesters or perhaps families, Mahboubi replied “we don’t bank on the empty-nester market in Calgary and haven’t seen any market for three-bedroom family condos.”
In terms of whether the investors were large institutional investors or the mom and pop variety, Mahboubi says QualexLandmark gets plenty of individuals who have done well with their units in Stella and Nova.
“We see lots of individuals who have helped their children buy their first condo and have seen a good return on investment; and so they buy into the new projects and create some rental income,” says Mahboubi. “We have an active list of 450 people interested in our projects.”
About 20 per cent were repeat buyers for Luna (people who originally bought into Stella or Nova), while 15 per cent of Calla buyers had bought into previous Qualex-Landmark projects in Calgary.
The company is impressed with the energy, optimism and “pro development” attitude in Calgary, which is very different from Vancouver, says Mahboubi.
Qualex-Landmark is actively looking at new sites, with company officials “keeping their eyes peeled” for other Beltline opportunities, he says.
An artist’s rendering of the 34-storey Mark on 10th project, centre, by Qualex-Landmark.
The development is to rise on the site of the old Western Canadian Graphics building.
An artist’s drawing of the Calla project, left, by Qualex-Landmark. It is near the Lougheed House, right.
Luna is another project within Connaught by Qualex-Landmark.