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Anthem's D'Arcy Crossing employs tried, true development strategy

Master-planned community one of several major projects in Calgary area, including Cornerstone and Belmont

A rendering of Anthem Properties' D'Arcy Crossing shopping centre. (Courtesy Anthem properties)

D’Arcy Crossing, a 150,000-square-foot mixed-use shopping centre at the northern gateway to the Town of Okotoks just south of Calgary, has been designed as a needs-based shopping destination for the area's burgeoning population.

Recently, Anthem Properties opened the doors to anchor tenants Safeway (47,000 square feet) and Shoppers Drug Mart (17,000 square feet). Also open is the Safeway liquor store at 6,500 square feet.

Jeff Pockett, senior director, leasing and asset manager for Anthem, said the shopping centre is over 80 per cent leased, with other stores to be opening in the near future.

“We have a number of tenants that are currently fixturing and we’re just finishing off the construction of our high street buildings A, B and C,” he said, adding the site will eventually have 20 to 25 retail tenants.

There’s also about 20,000 square feet of second-floor office space which will accommodate a half-dozen tenants.

“We’re anticipating local professionals. That’s certainly who we’d like to see fill that space . . . any businesses that are located or would like to relocate down to Okotoks,” Pockett said. "Just anybody that’s going to come in and complement the retail component or vice versa.”

More than just commercial development

A view of the D'Arcy residential community. (Courtesy Anthem Properties)

Its growing customer base will include two residential communities Anthem is building in the area – D’Arcy and Wedderburn. They will comprise 1,200 single-family and 900 multiresidential homes.

In addition to Anthem itself, the firm has brought in several homebuilders for the communities, including: Trico Homes, Sterling Homes, Morrison Homes, Prominent Homes and Partners Development Group.

“We’re building a large community around that site,” Pockett said. “(The shopping centre) will be one of the focal points of the entire community. It’s based right on the highway. Right now it will be the first commercial site going into Okotoks on your way home from Calgary.

“The bulk of the residential, and certainly the new residential growth, is north of the river (Sheep River) in Okotoks. So when we were looking at what to put in here we did notice an opportunity for a major grocery-anchored plaza just to give those that do live north of the river a little bit easier access to needed amenities.”

Anthem, a real estate development, investment and management company based in Vancouver, has invested in, developed or managed – alone or in partnership – more than 320 residential, commercial and retail projects across western North America.

Its growing residential portfolio includes 20,500 complete, in-design or under-construction homes from master-planned, mixed-use residential and multiresidential to townhome, rental and single-family communities.

It owns, co-owns, manages or has previously owned over nine million square feet of retail, industrial and office space.

It has developed more than 60 communities across 8,500 acres of land in Alberta, British Columbia and California.

Anthem's other Calgary-area projects

Besides Okotoks, one of the company’s biggest ongoing projects in the area is the Cornerstone community in the northern part of Calgary.

The community will have 6,000 single-family homes and 6,000 multiresidential units. Homebuilders in this development include Shane Homes, Jayman Built, Anthem and Truman.

Highstreet at Cornerstone is the commercial component of the massive development.

“It shares a lot of similarities with D’Arcy Crossing. It’s about 150,000 square feet. It’s anchored by Chalo which is Sobeys' ethnic brand which offers a wide variety of South Asian food,” Pockett said. "It’s a wonderful offering. It opened on the 13th of July.

“Shoppers is also at that one as well. We’re excited about it. The interest in D’Arcy has been strong. The interest in Cornerstone has been astronomical.”

He said Highstreet at Cornerstone, which has no office component, is over 90 per cent leased.

“We’re down to the final few vacancies,” he said. “That area is astounding. The growth is huge.”

Pockett said the third major project the company is working on in the Calgary area is the new community of Belmont in the southwest part of the city. 

“We will have a commercial component going into that area. It’s still a couple of years away,” he said. "We’re still evaluating what it’s going to be and how it’s going to look but we do anticipate coming to market this year with some preliminary offering there.

“It follows the beginning of the master-planned community. Anthem is very well-established in the area already and as far as I’m concerned our next step is to have the commercial component there.”

Keeping the focus on master-planned communities

Pockett said Anthem focuses on master-planned communities.

“Our bread and butter is grocery-anchored retail. As we build these master-planned communities it is a natural fit, and a natural step, to add a commercial component that services these communities that we’re building and grocery-anchored retail . . . is a no-brainer for us.”

He said Anthem is bullish on the Calgary real estate market these days.

“We’re deep into Calgary. Our centres both existing and new construction have been performing well and have performed well including through COVID,” Pockett said. "That was kind of our proof of concept. We do own a lot of grocery-anchored retail and it performed strongly through COVID. People need their essentials.”

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