Qualico Communities Calgary has made its largest land purchase in Cochrane, Alta., acquiring 536 acres that will be used to develop the master-planned community of Southbow Landing.
The company now has more than 5,000 total acres for current and future development across 15 projects in the Calgary area.
This would include over 20,000 single-family homes, plus an as-yet-undetermined number of multifamily properties. Full build-out of all the sites would take approximately 25 years.
“We are constantly evaluating market conditions and see continued growth in Calgary and Alberta. We are forecasting stronger sales in new housing stock given the strong economy, net migration and reduced supply in rental and resale product,” Cary Kienitz, Qualico's general manager, acquisitions and development, told RENX.
The Southbow Landing development
Southbow Landing, at full build-out, will be home to between 7,300 and 9,000 residents.
It’s located just east of Hwy. 22 on the south edge of Cochrane and the project will include residential areas, a large commercial centre, views of the Bow River and significant greenspaces.
Southbow Landing is anticipated to be developed in about 13 to 15 phases and is to include three future school sites, more than 10 kilometres of pathways, four parks and extensive environmental reserve areas.
Its central commercial area will be the largest on the south side of Cochrane, providing additional amenities for future homeowners and existing Cochrane residents.
“Qualico has been committed to the Calgary region since 1954, so it is likely no surprise that we have purchased such a large parcel in Cochrane,” said Thilo Kaufmann, vice-president of Qualico Communities Calgary. “The town provides easy access to Calgary and the Rocky Mountains and provides all the amenities and services of a big city with a small-town charm.”
There will be a mix of single-family and multi-family throughout the community. At the beginning, it will primarily be single-family, duplexes, laned and front-garage homes, with multifamily options added later.
There will also be an opportunity for some estate homes with views of the natural surroundings on the east side of the community.
“There’s actually quite a few advantages to that property. The first one is the aesthetics of land,” said Kienitz. "It has a very broad diversity of what product type we can bring on: valley view lots, river view lots . . . More an economical starter house product combined with the ability of putting some commercial there, because we have really direct access to the highway.
"Those are all ideal situations.”
Previous owner entitled land
He said the site was attractive for Qualico because it already had land-use approval via the previous owner (Philco Farms under the PBA Group of Companies) going through a land-use application in 2015.
Kienitz said Qualico is hoping for a seven-year construction program for build-out. It plans to break ground in June and have show homes by the end of the year for an initial opening of 2024. The timeline will be contingent on municipal approvals and the weather.
“We’re just working through the product types. We have a list of builders that will be involved with those projects,” he said.
The site will include commercial and industrial uses with about 25 acres of land available immediately for the first phase of development and another 15-20 acres shortly thereafter.
“There’s a significant amount of interest on the first industrial and commercial,” said Kienitz.
North of this site, Qualico has another 20-acre development called Rivercrest, which it is actively developing.
It should be ready for housing construction this year with 66 houses and a multi-family component of another 10 homes. There’s also a site on the project for a school.
Qualico Communities has been in the homebuilding and land development industry for 70 years and is based in Winnipeg. Qualico has offices in Calgary, Surrey, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Regina, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Dallas and Austin, Texas.
Current active Qualico Communities in Alberta include Ambleton, Hotchkiss, Crestmont View, and Vermilion Hill in the City of Calgary, Harmony in Springbank, Rivercrest in Cochrane, Dawson’s Landing in Chestermere and Painted Sky in Langdon.
“Qualico has probably the largest quantity of projects at any given time for developers,” said Kienitz. “This year we’re anticipating producing approximately 1,100 lots in the Calgary region. That’s single-family lots . . .
"With all of our land holdings we have approximately 30 years of production still to go through.
“We are actively looking in the City of Calgary in multiple regions right now. We try to hit most or all market segments to broaden our available product. A lot of times it’s just where land is available.”