It’s been a long time coming but the first residents of the city’s Blatchford residential development will move into their new homes in the next couple of months.
The first four townhomes are taking shape, nearly a year after developers started pre-selling units on the lands of the former City Centre Airport in central Edmonton.
But they are only a fraction of what was expected by this time.
Last March, four developers unveiled designs for their townhome pitches totally nearly 45 units, many including secondary suites.
‘Market conditions have an impact’
Blatchford, in Coun. Bev Esslinger’s Ward 2, has been in the works for many years and it’s not a huge surprise that a soft market has kept sales at bay.
“We all know that the market conditions have an impact on how fast a builder can move forward,” Esslinger told CBC News Friday. “So I think we just want to keep moving forward.”
Mutti Homes is the company behind the first four homes. It’s planning another four and has bought another plot of land behind their current building.
Vic Mutti, general manager, said his company has been selling about one home a month since units went on sale. They just sold the seventh one this week.
Mutti said the company got the building permits last August or September, and said it takes eight to 10 months to build the units.
Once the show home is open on the site, he expects sales will double.
The city hopes that despite the current soft housing market, the first trickle of residents will inspire a flood of interest in what has been called one of the largest sustainable communities in the world.
“Typically, the market shrinks toward the centre of the city. And then when it grows, it grows from the centre of the city — and as you know, Blatchford is as central as you can be,” Tom Lumsden, project development manager, said Friday on CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.
“It’s the first downtown development … in over 100 years on that scale. So while the market is soft, the builders are seeing good response and they’re getting some activity.”
Lumsden said the vision for Blatchford is to be walkable and sustainable. Its amenities will include a playground, community gardens, an orchard, a plaza for skating and a warming hut. It also has a geothermal field to produce heating, cooling and hot water and its houses are expected to be either solar panel equipped or solar-ready.
“And the location is second to none,” added Lumsden, listing off breweries, cafes and grocery stores as all being within walking distance.
“While it kind of mimics a new community, it’s in central Edmonton.”
Blatchford is built on 536 acres that had been the former site of Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, which became Canada’s first licensed airstrip in 1927 and operated until 2013. It is located north of Yellowhead Trail to Kingsway Avenue and Princess Elizabeth Avenue.
City council started talking about redeveloping the land in 2008. The city put in roads and sewers in 2018. Landscaping and other amenities are to be done this summer.
Lumsden said two other developers are ready to start building.