Down­town grows up

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page - CLAIRE YOUNG

Down­town is not just hip and hap­pen­ing for the younger, bach­e­lor-suite crowd, it’s also be­com­ing a place for more es­tab­lished cou­ples to set­tle into, even those with thoughts of ex­pand­ing their fam­ily cir­cle.

“It’s cer­tainly some­thing we see in other cities, like Van­cou­ver, where it’s not just the young pro­fes­sion­als com­ing into the down­town core, but it’s the sec­ond phase of their life — it’s the cou­ples and the mid-30s crowd and older who are stay­ing,” says Michael Ward, se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent of devel­op­ment for Grosvenor Amer­i­cas, which has part­nered with Cressey Devel­op­ment Group on the dual-tower Av­enue West End con­do­minium devel­op­ment at the cor­ner of 5th Av­enue and 10th Street S.W.

“The key to it is pro­vid­ing homes to them that meet their grow­ing needs,” he says. “Whereas a lot of the con­dos I’m find­ing in Cal­gary are smaller, stu­dio, one-bed­room type units, Av­enue is a good ex­am­ple of a prod­uct type that has a good per­cent­age mix of two-bed­room units so that there’s room for the first child or home of­fice or out-of town guests that might come.”

Av­enue West End, with 319 units, has homes that are a bit roomier than many twobed­room units avail­able in the Belt­line, he says, “so the liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is com­fort­able and you’re not hav­ing that first­time home­buyer ex­pe­ri­ence of squeez­ing your­self into 450 square feet of a stu­dio.”

At Av­enue West End, twobed­room units range in size from just un­der 1,000 square feet to 1,200 to 1,300 square feet, while pent­houses are larger.

“Clearly that makes the unit more ex­pen­sive as an end price, but if this is a cou­ple in their mid-30s, they’re not as price sen­si­tive (as a first-time home­buyer) and are will­ing to pay more for more space,” Ward says. “They’re prob­a­bly will­ing to pay for bet­ter fin­ishes, which is also part of the pack­age — bet­ter ap­pli­ances, more use of stone in the bath­room. It’s prob­a­bly not as large of a buyer group as the first-time home buy­ers in the down­town mar­ket, but it’s cer­tainly some­thing we’ve been see­ing at our Av­enue West End project.”

The at­trac­tion for these buy­ers is life­style: They want to be able to walk to work and be close to places where they so­cial­ize and other ameni­ties. And once the sin­gles be­come cou­ples and set­tle into the down­town life­style, many want to stay there to raise fam­i­lies in ur­ban ar­eas, in­clud­ing down­town, Belt­line, Mis­sion and the West End.

“What has to hap­pen there — and it’s the chicken-andthe-egg ar­gu­ment — some of those peo­ple will come into those ar­eas, but the city has to re­act to that by start­ing to think about where are young peo­ple go­ing to go to school. There are some op­tions, but ob­vi­ously, as a trend like this gets stronger, the city ser­vices need to be de­vel­oped fur­ther to ac­com­mo­date that,” Ward says.

Grosvenor and Cressey have in­cluded as­pects in the de­sign of Av­enue West End that have those cou­ples in mind.

The build­ing, for in­stance, has a bike re­pair room in the base­ment.

“Whether it’s you or your chil­dren, you’ve got a ded­i­cated space in the build­ing with a cou­ple of racks to put your bike up and work on it. There’s also a ded­i­cated dog­wash area in the garage. Any­one who’s washed their dog in the bath­tub and then they’ve jumped out and shaken wa­ter all over the house knows that’s best done in a garage-type space,” Ward says.

The devel­op­ment has a fit­ness room in the first tower, and a party room and lounge planned for the sec­ond tower.

“If you can’t fit all 10 of your din­ner guests into your condo, there is a fully func­tion­ing kitchen that can host a group that may be a lit­tle bit big­ger than what your condo can ac­com­mo­date,” Ward says. “As op­posed to the first-time home­buyer who might be go- ing out more as a sin­gle person, we tend to see that older age group may have more of the home din­ner par­ties and so­cial events around their home.”

Ward has wit­nessed this trend of more es­tab­lished cou­ples set­tling into ur­ban, condo life in Van­cou­ver, with the driv­ing fac­tors mo­ti­vat­ing the moves be­ing long com­mute times to work and high real es­tate prices, he says.

“In the long term in Cal­gary, we see this trend of peo­ple want­ing to live close to work, close to ser­vices, in ameni­tyrich ar­eas with lots of parks and the river walk and all of that,” he says.

Av­enue West End has be­gun con­struc­tion and pos­ses­sions are ex­pected to be­gin in late 2016.

Leah Hennel/Cal­gary Her­ald

Grosvenor Amer­i­cas se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Michael Ward, left, and Cressey Devel­op­ment Group ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Hani Lam­mam are on the site of condo high­rise project Av­enue West End, a joint ef­fort by their com­pa­nies.

Pho­tos: Neil Zeller

An artist’s ren­der­ing shows a bright kitchen in Av­enue West End, by Grosvenor Amer­i­cas and Cressey Devel­op­ment Group.

The devel­op­ment’s great room fea­tures large win­dows that of­fer sweep­ing views.

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