White: Calgary home building is on fire

From high rises and midrises, to densifying inner-city communities with popular row homes, developers are working to add housing.

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When it comes to the construction of new housing, Calgary is on fire. A recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. report found on a per capita basis, in 2023, Calgary outperformed all Canadian major cities with 12.2 starts per 1,000 people. Even more impressive — in November, Calgary outperformed Vancouver on an absolute basis with 1,808 housing starts compared to 1,761 and wasn’t far behind Toronto’s 2,304 starts. Impressive given Vancouver is twice our size and Toronto four times bigger.

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In chatting with the development community, this isn’t going to be a one year, or one month abnormality. The City of Calgary is currently juggling 1,300 applications for multi-family, single/semi-detached, and secondary suites, representing more than 6,000 homes and 8,055 building permits, representing 25,000-plus homes ready to be built or already under construction.

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Suburban Projects

  • Truman Homes, one of Calgary’s busiest housing developers with projects in every quadrant of the city, has constructed more than 1,000 new homes in the past five years in West District (there are five construction cranes operating in West District alone) and The Willows. They have plans for another 900 homes in the works along 17th Avenue near the future LRT extension beyond the 69th Street station.
  • Trinity Hills and Greenwich at Canada Olympic Park are quickly becoming attractive new communities with numerous housing projects with lots of amenities, including the Winsport facilities. Deveraux Developments has established itself as mid-market apartment-style rental builder in Trinity Hills, Arbour Lake West and the redevelopment of Northland Village Mall.
  • Jayman Built is rumoured to have plans to build another purpose-built mid-rise (think 15 storeys) community in Mahogany, like their very popular Westman Village, but taller.
  • Brookfield Residential’s Seton is dominated by multi-family buildings with both Logel Homes and Cedarglen Homes looking at very large future low rise condominium projects (think horizontal towers). These four- to six-storey wood frame condominium projects will be amongst the most affordable new products in Calgary.

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Inner city also on fire

  • Marda Loop is booming with several new projects including the Calgary Co-op’s signature project (in partnership with Truman Homes) expected to be announced this spring. It could include about 500 new homes in multiple mid-rise buildings, anchored by Co-op grocery, liquor and cannabis stores.
  • Just across Crowchild Trail, Minto Communities is in the early stages of redeveloping the Viscount Bennett school site that could add 2,500 new homes.
  • Kensington is starting to boom again with new midrise condominium and rental projects along the LRT tracks.
  • In the Beltline, Cidex is finishing up with its Hat on 14th building (230 rental units on the corner of 14th Street and 10th Avenue S.W.) and approval was recently given for the construction of the third 42-storey tower of the iconic West Village next to Shaw Millennium Park. It includes more than 250 homes, as well as 40,000 square feet of commercial space which could include an urban grocery store.
  • Cidex has a huge multi-tower project at the old Elbow River Casino site that could add 1,200-plus homes which has been “on hold” for a few years. With the completion of the BMO Centre expansion and construction of the new arena about to begin, one would think an announcement to proceed will happen soon. Cidex is also involved in two of the 13 downtown office to residential conversions, collectively adding 1,500 new homes to downtown.
  • Stampede Park redevelopment could also be the catalyst for Anthem Properties’ Crosstown development on Macleod Trail across from the Erlton Station — an 850-plus home development in four towers.
  • A little further south is the yet-to-be approved 4,000-plus home Midtown project in Fisher Park that includes a new LRT station funded by the developer, Cantana Investments.

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University Distict’s Main Street includes hundreds of new homes. Richard White, Postmedia cal
  • University District is building like gangbusters with almost 1,000 new homes currently under construction. Block 15 by Gracorp Properties is its largest building to date with 303 new homes. Autumn by Homes by Avi and The Forge will collectively add more than 300 new homes with retail along its main street. And Jayman Built just announced its Built Green certified Magna, an 82-home condo project.

Yes, Condos are Back

It is interesting to note that after years of no inner-city condo construction, we are beginning to see new condo construction again.

  • University District’s Argyle by Homes by Avi is sold out even though still under construction. In East Village, Bosa Development recently completed Arris, a 41-storey, 337-home condo tower.
  • Truman Homes is expanding its diverse housing portfolio to include its first two highrise buildings in the Beltline — Imperia (27 storeys) and the Lincoln (30 storeys). Both are upscale towers with the former having a funky futuristic design with a mid-tower sky garden, while the latter has a more classic timeless design.
  • In West Hillhurst, Truman is in the middle of the construction of Frontier, a 266-home building on the old Kensington Legion site. It is already sold out.

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Row House Infill Craze

Wander Calgary’s inner-city communities and you will find numerous large signs on front lawns announcing new row housing projects. Where two detached or duplex homes used to be the norm, today, inner-city home builders are building row housing with basement secondary suites that can add up to 20 new homes on just three 50-foot lots. While the height of these projects is the same as in the detached and duplex infills of the past, the lot density will be about three times what was achieved 10 years ago.

Last Word

It is also important to note that today about 40 per cent of Calgary’s new homes are being built in established neighbourhoods. As well, multi-family homes are outpacing single-family homes across the city. Both are definite signs that Calgary is becoming a denser city in both new and established communities.

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