Seizing Opportunity in the Midst of Uncertainty

Despite recent reports painting a bleak picture for the Alberta economy, there are a number of people, myself included, working to change the economic volatility that’s plagued the province for the last 8 months into opportunity for all Albertans.

While the oil slump has definitely impacted Alberta’s economy, it by no means has defeated the spirit or sense of resolve here. This undaunted perseverance is manifesting itself in other industries and sectors — real estate and property development being one of them.

Earlier this month, two luxury condominiums in of the Calgary’s prominent riverfront developments broke a three year downtrend when the units sold for $8.4 million and $5.2 million respectively. The record-setting prices for the 5,000-square-foot and 3,000-square-foot condos located in the same building not only marked the highest prices paid for condo units in the city for three years, it also signaled the city’s steady economic progression out of uncertainty.

This upward trend was further solidified when Calgary’s real estate sales figures for the last year were released in early July by the Alberta Real Estate Association. According to the data, “Overall sales for homes in excess of $1 million, including condos and semi-detached and detached houses, have climbed 8.6 percent this year compared with last year with 317 sold by the end of June 2016.”

There has also been a number of developments in the residential rental property sector over the last year, a sector I know well. When I founded Strategic Group, I built the company around the philosophy of “Creating value others can’t, by seeing what others don’t.” In September this year, myself, Riaz Mamdani, and Strategic Group will officially unveil our most ambitious project to date: a five-storey wood frame residential building, the first of its kind in Alberta history.

The 69 unit building, with a coffee shop and five work-live units on the ground floor, is located on the corner of Centre Street and 20th Avenue N.E. and will add much needed housing options for the population dense area.

The concept of the state-of-the-art wood framed building was made possible after the city’s 2014 announcement stating they would begin accepting variance applications for buildings (up to six-storeys) featuring wood-frame designs.

Aside from offering a unique aesthetic element to any neighbourhood, using wood to build taller buildings is cost effective, easily sustainable and can provide housing solutions for areas that are suffering from urban sprawl or density issues.

Building vertically has proven to be the answer in many different building situations and with municipalities across the country approving the building of low-rise wood frame buildings, I think we will see more unique wood frames sprouting up across the country.

Rollin Stanley, the manager of Calgary’s city planning department, recently told the Calgary Herald using low-rise buildings along transit corridors allows for greater density leading to community revitalization and more affordable housing options.

“Wood projects are more sustainable than concrete, it’s a renewable resource and, particularly when you look at where we live, we have access to wood,” said Stanley. “So that’s a terrific local resource we can capitalize on instead of building all these smaller buildings out of concrete.”