The 25-million-square-foot, master-planned Taza development on the Tsuut’ina Nation at the City of Calgary’s southwest boundary is finally taking shape after years of planning.
The Tsuut’ina Nation and Canderel will develop a major retail centre on 45 acres of the sprawling property, building 400,000 square feet of retail, entertainment and restaurant space to be known as The Shops at Buffalo Run. Costco will, for the first time in Canada, open a store on First Nations land to anchor the site.
The 150,000-square-foot Costco store, which is under construction and scheduled to open during the summer of 2020, will be located at the corner of the new southwest Calgary Ring Road and 130th Avenue. It will be the sixth outlet for the bulk retailing firm in the Calgary market area.
The Shops at Buffalo Run will offer an additional 250,000 square feet adjacent to the new Costco with construction continuing into next year and occupancy beginning in the summer of 2021. However, the first phase of retail is only one, comparatively small, element of the site.
William Briscoe, CEO of Canderel MDC Development Management Inc., told RENX the Taza development will include:
* Taza Park – 2.5 million square feet of commercial and 2.3 million square feet of retail and over 4,000 multifamily units;
* Taza Crossing – two million square feet of commercial and 750,000 square feet of retail and 2,500 multifamily units; and
* Taza Exchange – 1.5 million square feet of commercial and 1.2 million square feet of retail.
In addition, there will be 1.5 million square feet of hospitality and 1.9 million square feet of entertainment and specialty uses, Briscoe said.
Taza master-planned at 25 million square feet
“It is a very large project and it has been master-planned for a variety of uses. We spent the last several years focusing on quality,” Briscoe said.
“But, because of the size and scope of Taza, being across the three villages and several different areas, to focus on the market we master-planned it for about 25 million square feet.
“We spent the time looking at the various uses, not only for what’s happening today in the market, but also very much down the road and trying to future the zoning.”
Taza Park is anchored by the existing Grey Eagle Casino and Hotel. Briscoe said the idea is to create a diversity of activities in this village.
“It’s a fair amount of mixed-use and what we’ve really wanted it to be is a showcase for sophisticated, sustainable, active and socially engaged living,” Briscoe explained.
“That’s going to include hospitality, entertainment . . . but also restaurants and shops and uniquely created events that will support both the commercial activities as well as residential activities.”
Taza Crossing will be a medium-density hub with some higher-density, office-in-a-park settings. The focus will be on innovation and health care as a general theme for the village.
Briscoe said the developers are looking for medical offices to innovation-type uses in a cohesive and collaborative campus environment.
“We really do see the future of Alberta is going to be centred around the innovation, as we have those campus settings that can participate on that. We have a focus on health-care uses and integrating with the innovation and traditional approaches to health care,” he said.
Taza Exchange to be regional retail centre
Taza Exchange, where The Shops at Buffalo Run is located, is envisioned as a truly regional retail area with recreation and tourism uses.
“We’re seeing this as high-quality shopping and dining and entertainment options. And it’s a real special village I believe in, that there’s going to be a unique sense of place. Throughout Taza, we are drawing on the history, culture and stories of the Nation and that has been built throughout our design guidelines for all of Taza,” Briscoe said.
More announcements are pending about the specifics of the overall Taza development.
“The partnership was announced back in 2016. Tsuut’ina has been working and planning on this area for decades. So, there are a number of announcements that will be following in the coming months as the Ring Road nears completion and we have finished putting in our servicing, which we’re starting now,” Briscoe said.
Three villages, 1,200 acres
The three development villages encompass 1,200 acres to be developed over the next 30 years.
The developers believe Taza will be attractive for business with lower property taxes than the City of Calgary and a development permitting process that can be completed in as few as 45 days – reducing time and costs.
“Taza is opportunity, from its location along the Ring Road with its five access points off the Ring Road and six thoroughfare accesses. From a regional perspective, it’s an opportunity that I believe is unparalleled in this scale,” Briscoe said.
“We have a clear and effective development process in place. We wanted to make sure it was transparent and that it was efficient and effective for business. . . . We wanted to make sure we were significantly reducing the time and the costs associated with development.
“Also the jurisdiction is Tsuut’ina so the public works and essential services are provided by Tsuut’ina. Our property taxes are competitive and lower than the City of Calgary … We want this to be the place to be in southern Alberta.”
“Momentous” times for Tsuut’ina
Chief Lee Crowchild described the recent announcement that Taza is open for business as “momentous.”
“This signifies another major step forward for Taza and is reflective of the economic and social vision the Tsuut’ina Nation and its leadership have had for decades,” Crowchild said.
“We have been investing in the future of our Nation for many years; from businesses like Sarcee Gravel and the Tsuut’ina Gas Stop to the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino to the recently opened Seven Chiefs Sportsplex and Chief Jim Starlight Centre.
“We have been building up our own infrastructure and social programs, recently opening the Bullhead Education Centre, the new Tosguna Police Station and are now under construction with a new high school.
“Taza is an extension of all these investments. We want more than to just participate in the future, we want to be leaders – together at Tsuut’ina. Being home to the first Costco on First Nation’s land is both an honour and a privilege.
“Costco is one of the largest retailers in the world and we are thrilled that their business judgement brought them to Taza and to Tsuut’ina.”
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