The low down on Midtown

Airdrie’s newest-up-and-coming neighbourhood

As Airdrie has grown out past the CPR railway tracks west of downtown, one piece of land has remained conspicuously empty amidst the rapid development. But the community known as Midtown is finally starting to take shape.

The land, which covers 90 acres east of Eight Street SW between Railway Gate and Luxstone Landing and just south of Iron Horse Park, is now earmarked for a mixture of single-family homes, street town houses, apartments and commercial development, centred around a nine-acre stormwater pond/lake.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the development, which has been on the books since 2009 and hit a snag at Airdrie city council in early 2014 before finally being given the go-ahead later in the year. Construction of Midtown’s first single-family homes is about to commence, with the first showhomes expected to open in spring 2016.

Wenzel Developments of Calgary purchased the land, and development is taking place as a partnership between Shane Homes, Apex Builder Group (including Excel Homes) and Trico Homes.

“We’re all excited to get this done and to give the area a different look,” says Dave Rickett, vice-president of sales and marketing for Shane Homes. “We’ll start building at the end of September and will have showhomes for the spring of 2016. Apex is doing the servicing for us … you always want to partner up with people who have the same vision as you do.

“When we hired Apex to do the development,” Rickett adds, “we told them what the vision was. (Midtown) was never meant to be an area where you come in and build cheap, cheap homes. The architecture will be higher [quality] in here and the concept will be to look elegant. We’re going for a more urban-modern style.”

Building a community is rarely a one-company operation. In fact, Apex and Shane Homes have been partnering on neighbourhood development for nearly a quarter-century, says Susan Henderson, senior development manager with Apex. Locally, the two have previously partnered on Cooper’s Crossing and Hillcrest.

“Shane Homes/Wenzel Developments purchased the Midtown lands and invited Trico Homes and Apex to be partners in the project,” says Henderson. “Wenzel took the project through the planning stage with the City of Airdrie, and Apex will now manage the development of the lands.

“Locked by communities on all sides, the design pays close attention to the surrounding uses, ensuring a good fit with the existing neighbourhoods,” she adds.

Henderson says that Midtown’s builder group – Shane (including its Creations by Shane division), Excel and Trico – will focus on providing diverse housing options in Midtown, including front-drive and laned homes consisting of single-family houses, duplexes and townhomes. Approximately 600 homes are planned for the area. There will also be a commercial section in the northwest corner, adding to already existing retail along Eighth Street.

“We believe that Midtown will be a solid inner-city community,” says Henderson.

According to Airdrie Economic Development team leader Kent Rupert, partnerships like those making Midtown a reality are important to building the city.

“It’s exciting to see that piece of land be developed out,” Rupert says. “I think the advantage of being so close to Calgary … over the last eight years, we’ve seen a number of higher-end and larger developers [come to] Airdrie and choose it as a marketplace.

“You look at that piece of land, over the last number of years the city has continued to build around it, and as the city has grown, it’s left this empty hole,” he adds. “It’s exciting to see it move forward and complete the centre part of the community.”

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