Edmonton’s Blatchford area is taking shape and in an update Monday, the City of Edmonton said the project is on pace to see its first residents move in by 2019.
Officials in charge of transforming the former municipal airport lands in the heart of the city say would-be homeowners could start house shopping by next summer.
“We’re on for 2019 as a target for first residents, if the builders are constructing units in the middle of next year — it takes about a year,” Blatchford development manager Mark Hall said.
To the casual observer, it may be difficult to see just how much progress has been made so far. But underground is a different story.
Work to remove concrete and contaminated soil got underway in 2015, with more than 121,000 tonnes of concrete and asphalt being recycled for re-use on the site.
The city began installing underground utilities in July 2016. Since then, over 8,000 metres of water mains, storm and sanitary sewers, and geothermal pipes were installed and 1,400 metres of curb and gutters were constructed, showing where streets will eventually go.
The first portion of paving began this year, with 175 metres being completed. Aside from that, there’s not much — yet.
“The first stage is all underground,” Hall explained. “All we can basically see of it are some catch basins and fire hydrants right now.
“But next year, we’re going to be on the surface, and we’ll be doing the landscaping and putting in all of the surface work: all of the sidewalks, and curbs and gutters that weren’t done this year will be put on side, and then the builders can move on site to the fully serviced parcels that we’ve created this year.”
This is all in preparation for the development of the first phase of the community — Blatchford West. Twelve parcels of land in the area will be available for builders to express interest in developing.
Approximately 200 to 250 townhomes with potential garage suites, condo townhomes, stacked townhouses, and other low- to mid-rise condos and apartments will be built in the first phase, located on the west side of the site. Renderings also show ponds, several kilometres of walking trails and park spaces.
Blatchford isn’t a typical redevelopment: with it being built on a former airport, it could end up being one of the world’s largest sustainable communities. With that in mind, the city doesn’t want to see a traditional collection of houses and condos.
In 20 years, the city projects Blatchford will house up to 30,000 people. The aim is to make it a sustainable community with its own geothermal district energy facility.
“We expect in January, the drilling will start. We have 570 shallow geothermal wells to drill over the course of probably five or six months,” said Brian Latte with the city. “In the spring, the energy centre will start construction and carry through until spring of next year, together when the occupancy will be ready.”
The city said the 570 geothermal wells will produce enough heat for about 1,200 units — good for about five years of development. After that, the city says federal or provincial money would help expansion — which Latte said is important.
“You have to make sure that there’s that regular growth,” Latte said. “People will need to know that that next phase is coming. I think that it has to be very regular and sustainable to keep the momentum. Like any other community, the marketability and keeping the community growing – whether that’s in the suburbs or Blatchford is very key.”
Last month the city began accepting bids from builders, who were asked to tell the city why they think they should be allowed to buy the land to develop.
So far, about 60 companies have expressed interest in helping to build the community, and builders have until Friday, Dec. 8 to tell the city they want in on Blatchford’s first units. Negotiations with selected builders will start in the first quarter of 2018.
The community was named after Blatchford Field, the original name of the airport when it opened in the late 1920s.
— With files from Caley Ramsay and Fletcher Kent, Global News