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February 01, 2019

Hope at Large - Currie faces challenging 2019

Developers remain committed to Currie’s plans, but say tough 2019 ahead

Marty Hope

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The challenges Calgary continues to struggle with are, not surprisingly, impacting all segments of the economy including the housing industry.

Forecasters are already saying 2019 could be another flat year for sales with little if any growth in prices.

Among the new developments that could be negatively impacted by weak oil prices and a seemingly uncaring Justin Trudeau federal government is  the beginning of a major portion of Currie, a community being developed by Canada Lands Company on what used to be CFB Calgary.

John McBain, president and chief executive officer of Canada Lands, says Currie is a long-term project.

“Like any developer, we too are subject to variations in the market. At present, we envisage 15 years to complete the vision for Currie,” he says. “We are focused on fulfilling the vision developed during the creation of the plan for Currie and the delivery of a leading and successful community for Calgarians and the City of Calgary.”

But still, it would be nice if work on the core area of the 80-hectare community with Embassy Bosa as the lead could at least have an estimated start date. But so far, nothing.

Bosa has big plans that include about 2,500 apartments of mid- to high density as well as 270,000 square feet of retail and commercial space — making this portion the heart of the community.

Kelvin Whalen, Calgary-based senior director of real estate for Canada Lands Company adds that “Bosa is monitoring the Calgary market and the timing for the first phase of core development.”

This year, though, will see the continuation of other phases while everyone waits for the starter’s pistol to get the core area out of the blocks. Whalen says Currie will be made up of 17 phases, not including the core.

Among the phases proposed to get under way this year will the fourth that  will feature mid-rise construction of about 400 units, including a retirement home by Statesman Group.

Later this year, work on the fifth phase will see a combination of 170 townhouse and mid-rise apartment units by Anthem Properties that will be geared to a “broad range” of price points.

“The sixth phase is currently being graded and will be ready for the construction in 2019 of 16 upscale single-detached homes fronting onto the future Alexandria Park,” says Whalen.

Currie is a great example of what Canada Lands Company can do with surplus federal government land — and  follows on the heels of the nearby neighbourhoods of Garrison Woods and Garrison Green.

“We primarily develop mixed-use communities with a range of housing types, green spaces, and community amenities including school sites and recreation. Most include some degree of retail and commercial uses, as well. We believe all bring the key elements of good urban planning where people can live, work, learn, and play,” says McBain.

Take the proposed Alexandria Park, for instance.

Whalen says the park is in design and could be under construction this year. “It will feature a number of recreational and programming features for a broad range of users,” he says.

And it could well be that Currie will be the last development in Calgary for Canada Lands Company — which has been active here since 1998.

Asked if there are more federal surplus properties in Calgary or surrounding areas that might become available, McBain says: “We don’t foresee any at this time. Those decisions rest with federal custodians who determine if and when federal real estate may become surplus to their needs.”

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