Building Community

Story by Mario Toneguzzi


Photos by Sergei Belski

Winter 2018

We like to call it community building; not just homebuilding

Airdrie has become the land of opportunity in recent years for residential developers and homebuilders as the real estate industry has taken advantage of the city’s burgeoning growth. 

A quick look at some statistics point out clearly why Airdrie has become the place to be for those homebuilders and developers. 

The city continues to be one of the fastest-growing communities in Alberta and Canada. Over the past five years, Airdrie has experienced an average annual growth rate of 7.48 per cent. Its population in 2018 is 68,091. 

The growth has been stunning. In 1977, Airdrie’s population sat at 2,265 and then started to soar, reaching 10,461 in 1987, 16,732 in 1997 and 31,512 in 2007. 

That rapid pace of growth has drawn the attention of residential land developers and homebuilders. Airdrie now offers a variety of choices for homebuyers. Housing prices have remained stable over the past several years and Airdrie continues to offer a slightly more affordable environment over neighbouring Calgary. 

The number of dwelling units in Airdrie has grown from 18,632 in 2013 to 24,407 in 2017, and city projections have growth forecast to hit 34,484 dwelling units in 2028 and 41,193 in 2035. 

As in sports, numbers always tell the story and the reality when it comes to the real estate industry and those numbers point to confidence in the future as Airdrie continues to be the place to be for homeowners – and of course the real estate and construction industry. 

“We love Airdrie. In fact, I live in one of our homes out there,” says Don Barrineau, Alberta president for Mattamy Homes. “That’s how much we love it. Our original acquisition and community in Alberta was the Windsong community and we built just over 2,000 homes (there). We like to call it community building; not just homebuilding.  

“We’ve continued from there and immediately south and adjacent to that parcel in the community we’re calling Southwinds now. We’re probably 1,200 homes complete into what will be another 2,000 homes there. And then we recently purchased a large parcel immediately west and abutting Southwinds to the west.” 

Mattamy began in Airdrie in 2009 and Barrineau says the city has exploded in population since then and amenities have followed suit.  

“It’s close and it’s an affordable alternative. Land is not as expensive (as Calgary). We sell the same plan versus the city of Calgary community for $50,000 to $70,000 less in Airdrie…. We love being up there and we’ve got our eye on more land. We plan to be there for a long time.” 

That sentiment is echoed by a wide variety of homebuilders and residential land developers who have made Airdrie home over the years to take advantage of the city’s spectacular growth. The names are a who’s who of the real estate industry including Brookfield Residential, Shane Homes, Slokker Homes, Melcor Developments, Excel Homes, WestMark, Qualico Communities, Vesta Properties and Genesis Builders Group to name a few. 

Shane Homes is currently building houses in the communities of Midtown and Hillcrest. Brookfield Residential is a developer and homebuilder in the Chinook Gate community, building laned and duplex homes – its first project in Airdrie. Vesta has a new master-planned site called Southpoint, its third in the city following Willow Brook and Williamstown. Melcor has been involved in King’s Heights. It has three other significant land holdings with construction to start this spring. Genesis is in three different areas – Bayview, Bayside and Newport. WestMark is developing Cooper’s Crossing. Excel is building in Hillcrest, Chinook Gate and Midtown. Apex is developing Hillcrest and Midtown. Qualico is developing Ravenswood. Slokker is building in Canals and Georgetown. 

Kent Rupert, Airdrie Economic Development team leader, says Airdrie is in a really fortunate position of having a young population and different housing options available now for all demographics. 

Justin Castelino, marketing manager of Brookfield, says the developer and homebuilder is finding that what resonates well with many people is the affordability and bigger lot sizes found in Airdrie compared with Calgary. 

“What we saw in Airdrie first off was just a great opportunity, with the land that we’re developing being adjacent to the Chinook Winds Park, which is such an incredible amenity for the entire City of Airdrie,” says Castelino.  

“Airdrie itself has a lot of promise. It’s growing strong. There’s a really great entrepreneurial spirit in Airdrie.” 

Jamie Ivey, Hillcrest area manager for Shane Homes, says that with the downturn in the economy in recent years, homebuyers are seeing a great affordable alternative with properties in Airdrie.  

“Pricing of the land is quite a bit cheaper,” he says. “There are also bigger lots.” 

Graeme Melton, vice-president, Community Development Division – Calgary Region at Melcor, says Airdrie has been a very strong market for the land developer in the Calgary census metropolitan area.  

“There’s definitely an affordability inducement to go out there,” he says. 

“They do work hard. They’ve got a very collaborative approach with the industry and always have. I think it’s just really built into their culture.” 

AJ van der Linden, sales manager for Vesta Properties, says Airdrie has been the fastest growing city in Alberta over recent years. 

“A lot of good things have been happening here,” says van der Linden. 

And it’s the reason why land developers and homebuilders continue to seek opportunities in Airdrie, which is becoming the place to be in Alberta.