Alberta home buildings banking land
October 5, 2020
Despite the pandemic and a plunge in oil prices, Alberta’s 13,600 housing starts so far in 2020 accounted for 68 per cent of all new home construction in the Prairie provinces, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Alberta’s construction pace through the first eight months of 2020 was also just 3,000 units less than in neighbouring British Columbia, where year-over-year starts plunged 23 per cent—the worst performance in the west.
Also, smaller Alberta communities are seeing much higher sales increases this pandemic-tinged year than in the major cities.
It is data like this that persuaded some of Alberta’s largest residential developers to stake out huge parcels of land—especially in the south—in anticipation for what they apparently see as Alberta’s inevitable post-pandemic recovery.
In Calgary, the most active real estate sector in the second quarter of 2020 was residential land—virtually all in the suburbs—with a 35 per cent share of the $390 million total commercial market, according to Altus Group.
Most of this was due to Qualico Communities, a major Alberta developer, which paid $173,313 per acre for a 490-acre parcel north of Calgary—a region where Qualico has staked out Phase 1 plans for a new mixed-use community dominated by thousands of new homes. Qualico’s overall area encompasses 3,348 acres and aims to support a future population of 58,800.
In Airdrie – a Calgary bedroom community – Graeme Melton, vice president of community developments for Melcor Developments, was on hand September 15 to open the new community of Lanark Landing, 160-acre site intended to include 1,200 homes.
Melcor bought the land in 2006. It was originally planned to be Airdrie’s first lake community with 80 acres of freshwater but was downsized due to concerns with Alberta’s economy, which has been blindsided by an oil-price plunge and COVID-19.
“We’ve been able to persevere through this challenge. We’ve seen a lot of sales activity here that I think would’ve surprised people at the beginning of the pandemic. We’re expecting to see great success,” Melton said.