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Building permit applications on the rise

City sees 6.7 per cent increase in housing unit demand throughout 2022, led by growing appetite for apartments.
Averton's Midtown development next to The Enjoy Centre.

The housing development trend in the city has continued upward, with a 6.7 per cent increase in residential unit building permits applied for in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the City of St. Albert’s Department of Planning and Development. Among the various types of housing, apartment permit applications saw the most significant increase, indicating a growing demand for multi-unit builds.

The figure for single family unit home applications (212) was the same in both 2021 and 2022. Semi-detached applications were down 8.7 per cent (46 to 42), townhouse condo permit applications were down and 6.3 per cent (80 to 75), and apartment units were up 23.9 per cent (184 to 228) relative to 2021 numbers. 

Unsurprisingly to anyone who has paid attention to St. Albert’s continually expanding periphery, the demand for housing is always on the rise. And indeed, the Botanical Arts City has proven to be especially magnetic to newcomers taking advantage of Alberta’s economic opportunities.

“As a whole, Alberta is seeing unprecedented migration and growth in several important sectors, and the Edmonton Region will see the effects of this for many years,” pointed out Paul Lanni, president and CEO of Averton, a developer with an especially large presence in St. Albert’s newest neighbourhoods. “Compared to other parts of the region, we feel strongly that St. Albert offers a high quality of life and sense of community.”

Buyer preferences

According to the 8th annual Canadian Home Builders’ Association Preference study, the largest group of new home buyers in the Capital Region is "growing families with children," making up 49.4 per cent of the market. Additionally, the largest age cohort among new home buyers in the city is millennials, accounting for 49.1 per cent of buyers. 

The study also found that 43.7 per cent of buyers are looking for a legal secondary suite in their next home. 

When it comes to interior features, Edmonton homebuyers are prioritizing walk-in closets, linen closets, large windows, and upstairs laundry.

2023 forecast

While sustained migration trends indicate that housing development will continue to increase in the coming years, the city issues growth predictions with a healthy degree of uncertainty.

“It is extremely difficult to forecast new home starts with any level of accuracy,” said Adryan Slaght, the city’s director of planning and development.

“There are numerous factors that have had significant impacts on observed building permit applications in the past, such as the price of oil, interest rates, and COVID. Based on discussions with members of the local development industry, we could expect anywhere from 165 to 275 primarily low-density single family lots being applied for in 2023, as well as anywhere from one to three medium-high density sites.”

Of course, most of these builds are expected along St. Albert’s perimeter, contributing to the community’s gradual geographic expansion.

“In raw numbers, Riverside and Jensen Lakes are probably likely to see the most development activity in 2023, followed by Cherot and Erin Ridge North,” added Slaght.

For decades, St. Albert’s ongoing growth has been a tremendous commercial opportunity for local developers, and all signs point to 2023 being another good year. 

“We are expecting a busy year in Midtown, with our first phase seeing the continued build out of our Courtyard Series Townhomes, as well as the start of construction of our bold new Trailside Series Townhomes,” said Lanni. “Further south within the community, Midtown’s mixed-use district will be welcoming over 225 units of seniors continuum care in an exciting project, expected to be permitted in early 2023.”

As Lanni notes, location and amenities can be critical variables in a development’s success or failure — the neighbourhoods popping up around the city are built and advertised with these considerations in mind.

“Midtown has great access to the rest of the region, while still enjoying the benefits of being in St. Albert.  While still in its early stages, we feel that Midtown is already well positioned, due to its award winning characteristics, like open spaces and trails, architecture and innovation. Overall, with interest rates stabilizing and migration continuing, we believe that 2023 will be a busy year for Midtown.”

And luckily for those hoping for more opportunities to put down roots in the city, Averton’s optimistic outlook is not unique.

“Coventry and Impact Homes will bring on 30-40 homes in St. Albert between two communities, Riverside, and the brand-new community of Nouveau offering detached garage and attached garage homes,” said sales manager Antonius Magureanu.

“In 2023 we will bring on the most homes to date in St. Albert. We expect this to continue as Riverside and Nouveau continue to build out.”

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