De­vel­oper mak­ing its Mark in Cal­gary

Condo tower planned for Belt­line

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - RICHARD WHITE

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.

Belt­line dis­trict

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.

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

Lessons learned

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.

Photos, Qualex-land­mark

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.

Photos, Cal­gary Her­ald/files

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.

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