Residential construction in the city is booming with both Riverside and Cherot neighbourhoods under development with spring and summer construction underway.
The first nine homes in St. Albert's newest neighbourhood Cherot are currently under construction as part of the first phase of development. Cherot is located between Villeneuve Road and Giroux Road west of Ray Gibbon Drive.
“Phase one will contain 133 lots that will accommodate five housing types,” Mike Erickson, the city's director of economic development said. “The show-homes are planned to be open later this fall.”
Built to a housing density of 40.5 units per hectare, Adryan Slaght, the city's director of planning and development said the neighbourhood is expected to house 8,000 people once fully developed.
Included in the initial phase of construction is also a park, which will feature a 7-metre tall replica of the Eiffel tower, Erickson added.
As the Gazette has previously reported, the proposed community amenities site is also located in the Cherot neighbourhood. The community amenities project has undergone two rounds of public engagement, Slaght explained, and is expected to be before council again in June after administration refines a concept plan.
On the other end of the development-spectrum is the neighbourhood of Riverside, located along McKenney Avenue east of Ray Gibbon Drive, which has been in development for more than five years.
Slaght explained that the population of Riverside, at a housing density of 32 units per hectare, is expected to reach 10,000 once fully developed. To add perspective, Slaght compared Riverside to St. Albert's northern neighbour Morinville, which the Alberta government estimated to have total population last year of about 10,500.
The Co-op grocery store being built in Riverside, Erickson said, is expected to open sometime this summer.
“That's a big milestone,” Erickson said. “That's the first grocery store off of St. Albert Trail, so it's a really strong indicator of the growth that we expect and also that Co-op sees and expects for west St. Albert.”
Erickson also said there are a few “purpose-built rentals” being constructed in Riverside. "We know that we really struggle with 3-bedroom product, there's not a ton available so it's nice to see some different product like that that's geared towards three bedrooms," he said.
As of the end of last year, St. Albert's vacancy rate for residential homes was just 2.2 per cent, while commercial and real estate properties have a vacancy rate of 3.7 per cent.
Leading the way for commercial property development in recent years has been the Anthony Henday Business Park, which Erickson said has resulted in about 1.3 million square feet of space developed since 2018.
The business park includes the U-Line facility, which was completed in 2021, and Erickson said the tire and mechanic chain store OK Tire is set to open a new warehouse and potential office in the Park in the immediate future.
For non-shovel ready projects, Slaght said the city has received a development permit application from Active Communities regarding the proposed twin outdoor rink facility planned near Paul Kane High School.
The project, which has received $3.5 million in funding from the provincial government as well as $1.5 million from the city, includes two outdoor rinks for winter sports which will then be converted to dry-court sport space during non-winter seasons.
“We have the application in and we're working through comments with the applicant,” Slaght said, adding that he was unable to provide an estimated time-frame for when the city could issue a decision on the permit application.
“Typically on a less complex project the city's average is somewhere around four business days for development permits right now,” he said. “With this one there's a little bit more on the go and if the application didn't meet all the specifications of what the land-use bylaw requires then it might take some iterations back and forth.”
For other project updates, the city's Chief Administrative Officer Bill Fletche, said the repair work being done on Fountain Park Pool is on schedule, and the pool is expected to re-open this summer.
“While it's been a significant impediment to access to amenities for folks, in the long run it's going to pay dividends,” Fletcher said of the repair project, which included maintenance work that was initially scheduled for 2024.