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AY JV launches 200-acre Edmonton Exhibition Lands dev.

First phase of city-owned site project

Reed Newnham, principal, capital markets group, investment, land for Avison Young in Edmonton. (Courtesy Avison Young)
Reed Newnham, principal, capital markets group, investment, land for Avison Young in Edmonton. (Courtesy Avison Young)

Avison Young is partnering with the City of Edmonton property sales division to kick-start the first phase of the 200-acre Edmonton Exhibition Lands development.

Reed Newnham, principal, capital markets group, investment, land for Avison Young in Edmonton says his firm launched a call for bids in early May for two development parcels totalling close to 20 acres on the western edge of the infill project.

Prospective purchasers of the two parcels designated for residential use have until June 21 to submit a letter of intent.

The Exhibition Lands incorporate 200 acres of city-owned property, which include the now-closed Northlands racetrack and the city’s old Coliseum hockey arena.

The plan for the area, which is about five kilometres northeast of downtown, includes new urban infill residential and transit-oriented multi-use development.

A mix of new and existing facilities

The Edmonton Expo Centre, a large convention facility on the Exhibition Lands, will continue to operate, as will Borden Park, an urban park with playgrounds, amenities and an outdoor pool.

The plan also calls for campus buildings and student housing related to neighbouring Concordia University.

The first two parcels Avison Young is handling are designated for “ground-oriented” residential, a variety of residential builds from single-detached homes to six-storey apartment-style buildings.

Minimum density must be 20 units-per-acre and the city requires the development meet sustainability requirements, including being net zero-ready before 2030 and net-zero operational after 2030.

The asking price on the 12-acre parcel abutting a light rail transit line is $4.4 million. The second 7.8-acre parcel at the corner of 112 Avenue and 79 Street is valued at $4.53 million.

Not only residential development

Newnham says the city’s zoning will allow some neighbourhood commercial development on the sites.

The sites are adjacent to a Save-On-Foods grocery store, a small strip mall and the East Edmonton Health Centre, which provides urgent care and public health services.

Lovey Grewal, City of Edmonton real estate department lead on the Exhibition Lands, says shovels will be in the ground on utility and roadway improvements in spring/summer 2024.

A small urban farm on one of the parcels will be relocated after next summer’s growing season.

“The Phase 1 residential first home dwellings are to be completed by 2025 at the earliest, given servicing and development constraints,” Newnham adds. “You might see this 20 acres built out in four to seven years.”

He says there has already been interest from developers and builders in the project, ranging from prospective purchasers of one or both sites on offer, to those who are interested in bidding on subsequent phases of the overall project.

Included in those future phases are two transit villages - mixed-use commercial spaces clustered around two new planned transit stops north of the Phase 1 parcels.

Some details still up in the air

While the city has an extensive planning framework for the Exhibition Lands, both Newnham and Grewal say the details of the developments will be up to private sector developers and builders.

The city is requiring a certain percentage of units meet affordability standards.

“After that it’s up to the successful proponent to deliver built form and product types they deem will be successful,” Newnham says.

Grewal says the city is taking a different approach and acting as a development facilitator rather than a master developer.

“We’ve tried to make it as flexible as possible to allow private industry — builders and developers — to deliver on base goals for the neighbourhood without being too prescriptive,” Grewal says.

He adds that those interested in the redevelopment plans and timelines can consult

The last major urban infill project on public land launched by the city was the ambitious Blatchford community, which has lofty carbon neutral goals and restrictions, but has fallen years behind schedule.

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