Two groundbreaking events. Two large-scale projects focused on rentals. We have further proof that developers are moving further and further away from condos — and that serving the rental market is the best way forward.
On Wednesday morning, Maclab Development Group broke ground on its new Garneau development near the corner of 86th Avenue and 112th Street. There will be two towers that replace a surface parking lot, 20- and 30-storeys, respectively. There will be 175 residences that will house close to 500 students, and 260 “market residential” units, along with 12 townhomes that face the street.
“We want to turn this surface parking lot into something glorious,” said Mayor Don Iveson.
“The student residences are going to provide a phenomenal amenity package,” said Bill Blais, president and CEO of Maclab. “The location is second to none.”
The towers were designed by architect Ana Maria Llanos of the Vancouver firm, Diamond Schmitt. The residences’ design were influenced by a series of visits to university residences across Canada and British Columbia.
But the second tower, the residential rental project, is further proof that leasing is outperforming the condo market in Edmonton. We’ve already seen the completion of major rental projects like The Capital and the Augustana earlier this year. And the CX development downtown is also targeting post-secondary students.
“Rental projects are certainly coming to the fore and it’s an exciting time to be a long-term-rental owner and operator, and able to provide new rental product into the Edmonton market,” said Blais. “We as a company want to remain invested in Edmonton. We’re interested in building rentals… While there may be opportunities in the condo market, it’s not something that fits into our corporate philosophy.”
In the afternoon, Vancouver based Open Sky Developments broke ground on its new 140-unit project, the Jameson, set to open for rentals in 2023.
While rental is booming, there is still a void when it comes to larger units for families. The Jameson, located in Oliver at the corner of 102nd Avenue and 121st Street will include two- and three-bedroom units, as well as a playground. The top floor will be a common space for residents, and it will also include amenities like WiFi throughout the building, charging stations and a bike repair area in front of the building that anyone in the community can use.
Robert Horvath, Open Sky’s principal, said Edmonton is attractive to his company because of the affordability of housing here.
Iveson said the project will meet the “aspirations of the community.”
Horvarth was blunt when asked why the rental market has eclipsed the condo market in Edmonton.
“We build high-quality rental, that’s our product,” said Horvath. “In this neighbourhood, we have a boutique type of product that’s special, that’s sophisticated, that’s different from the rest. The rental market is definitely active in Edmonton, and the condo market is not.”
He said that in Edmonton, condos are priced close to what a house would cost, and that makes condos unattractive. Compare that to overheated markets like Vancouver or Toronto, where there is a gap in price points between condos and homes.
“Condos are not being built and they’re not marketable in Edmonton.”