Very quietly homes are selling at Blatchford
What is happening at the Blatchford development might surprise you. Especially with the pandemic wreaking havoc on Edmonton’s economy. Half-million dollar homes are selling.
That’s according to the development manager for the property Tom Lumsden who reports 6 of 12 parcels were activated in 2020 and all half-dozen were snapped up by builders. That’s 52 homes, and at last count, because he asks regularly, around 25 have been snapped up by buyers. Three have already moved in.
“And that’s 50 per cent of the product being sold before a sales centre opened on site, with one show home”, Lumsden said.
It’s a confusing money trail for city council
Four builders signed on in 2019, Encore Master Builder, Mutti Homes, Ocheller by RedBrick, and Carbon Busters. And the nature of the buildings, since they aren’t stand alone homes, and they tap into the district energy system means those builders are trying to mitigate upfront costs.
A developer asked me recently about how much money the city has sunk into the project. That’s where the money trail gets murky and there is increased risk, so city council a couple of years ago agreed to put up enough money to offset the more expensive energy requirements in the proposed net-zero neighbourhood.
The concept is to have the monthly utility bill somewhat close to what homeowners across the city would pay. Or why else would someone choose to live there if it’s dramatically more expensive.
That’s why council has agreed to put in $93 million over the next decade and a half to offset the lack of cost-recovery that all other main stream utilities have built into their prices. Nearly $20 million in 2016 dollars went into stage one. Initial estimates suggest you’ll see a projected $660 Million over 50 years.
No word on federal money yet
Ottawa is still on the wish list for federal cash, however with a trillion-dollar debt, that’s an even larger question mark, although a switch to sustainable living may be a key policy plank in the next time we go to the polls, possibly as early as this spring.
Those on council who are worried most about taxpayer supported debt, which for Blatchford is in the $10 million range on $100 million-plus in borrowing, are raising questions about the pace of the development.
Lumsden said the good news is the heat pumps are working as planned to keep the heating, cooling and hot-water running from the shafts that are buried beneath the storm pond that will be featured in the neighbourhood. In these homes, you won’t see gas furnaces.
Another six parcels, for another 52 units will be on the market through 2021. Crews have also begun carving and grading the path for the Metro-Line LRT that is due to be built by 2025. Federal and provincial money is already confirmed for construction.
A deal is set with the province to expand NAIT onto 32 acres although no timeline is set yet for construction.
And taxpayer money appears safe. Lumsden says the most recent cash forecast done in 2014 shows a $200 million profit after 25 years of development.