Blatchford developers optimistic about incremental progress

The City of Edmonton says the Blatchford development on the site of the former City Center Airport is “about to take off,” with all available plots sold or sold to builders.

This means that construction of approximately 1,100 housing units is scheduled to begin this year, with a mix of condominium and four to six storey apartment-style homes with commercial opportunities.

According to the original plan approved in 2014, there were supposed to be 2,750 homes on the site now out of the 30,000 planned. At Thursday’s grand opening, the developers celebrated having 36 units operational and another 50 units ready to go.

“Any new community takes time to bring to market,” said Tom Lumsden, director of development at Blatchford. “Take off takes time.”

“We’ve finally seen some activity,” Lumsden added. “We have people living here. We have two phases, and we have an interest in every piece. We have two more phases that we’re going to build this year.”

Weather permitting, he added, the project hopes the Airport Road will be connected to 109th Street by NAIT by the end of this construction season.

“The last flight took off from Blatchford on November 30, 2013,” Lumsden said. “Our first homeowner moved on October 24, 2020. Seven years from an airport active in this kind of development for people who live there, I’ll suggest, maybe fast.”

Tim Cartmel, a member of Ward Behesuen’s board, believes the project is being delayed due to affordability.

“Condominiums in Blatchford are very, very expensive,” Cartmel said. “I think we really need to look at how we can bring these costs down so that it is more competitive with the market.

“When you compare to other developments in core neighborhood areas, or you compare to new developments on the edge of town, Blatchford’s price is uncompetitive,” he told CTV News Edmonton.

In his view, the benefits of the community sell itself, with the region’s renewable energy system and off-the-shelf amenities, but the rise is still slow.

“To be just an LRT stop away from downtown, downtown, the plaza area, and from there only a few blocks from the university or stadium area. Honestly, Blatchford should have everything going for it, frankly, suburban development doesn’t owns,” Cartmel added.

Lumsden recognized that the units available to potential buyers now represented some of the most expensive developments in Blatchford. According to him, the site is expected to be fully developed by 2038.

“Once we get more building types, affordability will change,” he said, adding that the site will meet a target of 16 percent of affordable housing with a range of markets close to supporting residential homes.

Lumsden said market demand will drive how quickly the city can progress into other stages of development.

“Blatchford embodies the vision of what Edmonton residents want their city to be – a healthy, urban, climate-resilient and thriving community,” Kuhn said. Ann Stevenson, Ward O-day’min actress.

“I am proud of this work and the opportunity we had to transform an urban space into a 15-minute community,” she added in a statement.

The city will host a major public opening event on Saturday with rides, open houses, and opportunities to meet the development team.

Files from Joe Scarpelle, CTV News in Edmonton

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