Optimistic but not bullish is the general feeling in the development community about the prospects for residential building in St. Albert in 2010.
This past year was a surprisingly good one after a slow start, said Jim Pennell, senior development manager with Genstar. The company sold close to 100 lots, which is everything it had except for seven remaining in Lacombe Park Estates. The company also serviced 50 new lots in 2009 and plans to match that in 2010.
“We’re certainly positive. Are we bullish? I would be putting my toes into that water for sure but I think we need to see how the new year starts before we get overly excited,” Pennell said.
Genstar has a development in waiting at the Northwest Urban Village but still has months of planning work before servicing can start. The village is a mixed-use development along Giroux Road near Ray Gibbon Drive. Genstar is working with the city’s planning and development branch to incorporate another eight hectares into the Area Structure Plan, which council passed in 2006 prior to annexing county land and finalizing the alignment of Ray Gibbon Drive.
Pennell is hoping to have the proposal before council by June.
“Once we get the planning done we’re going to see some serious interest in it,” Pennell said.
The only activity that Melcor Developments has planned is the servicing of its remaining serviceable land in Erin Ridge, said development manager Carol Wallace.
This will bring 32 lots on stream. Wallace is hoping to begin work in late spring and have the lots ready for building in mid to late July. The company is also holding six serviced lots in Oakmont that are awaiting sale to homebuilders.
“I think it’s going to be a better year than 2009,” Wallace said.
“The real estate market improved. People were able to sell their houses so they were able to purchase new houses,” she said.
Canterra Properties isn’t planning to service any more lots until it sells its current inventory of more than 30 lots in Regency Heights Estates, where lots start at $279,900.
Right now, demand from builders for these estate-sized lots is limited and the company has had to lower its prices, said president Murray Brown. He’s anticipating that 2010 will bring more broad-based demand than 2009.
I feel that people at different levels [of the market]will be interested in making decisions this year which certainly wasnt true a year ago, Brown said.
The main economic indicators look good — unemployment is headed downward, interest rates are still low and the used housing market is active, he said.
“There’s a shortage of listings of good homes. I think that people who are looking at upgrading will now migrate back to the new housing market because one can get a brand new home today, custom built, at a very competitive price,” Brown said.
“Builders are anxious to do business today.”
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse also thinks 2010 will see more active residential development because inventories are dwindling.
“I think what we’re going to see is a continuation of 2009 maybe even a little more aggressive because the inventory of homes and lots right now is less than 200 in the city which is down from about 650 at its peak,” he said.