August 27, 2018 5:50 pm

1st stage of residential housing at Blatchford development could be built next fall

WATCH ABOVE: Officials in charge of the city centre airport redevelopment say Edmontonians can expect to see real changes to the land soon. Fletcher Kent reports.

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Edmonton councillors received an update on the Blatchford redevelopment project on Monday. Officials said the first phase of residential housing construction will start by the fall of 2019.

The first stage of the plan will see about 250 row, townhome-type residences being built on six parcels of land.

READ MORE: Edmonton unveils plans for first residential phase of Blatchford redevelopment

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The development manager for Blatchford — who just joined the city from the private sector — says five to six years from start to the first homeowners moving in is not abnormal.

“From my experience in the private sector, when you go from green field to have houses on site, it could take four to maybe eight years, depending on what kind of zoning you do, what the status of planning is at,” Tom Lumsden said.

“This is not unusual, considering there’s an airport actually operating, in 2023 and we’re five years from that.”

The redevelopment plan for the old city centre airport land includes an affordable housing portion, but that won’t be part of the first phase.

“It is the goal of the city to target the 16 per cent,” Lumsden said. “I think we should be able to accommodate that into our development.”

Watch: Aug. 16, 2016: City unveils more details about forthcoming Blatchford development

The city is also close to approving what developers it will work with on the project. It will narrow down the list of builders from the original 27 who showed interest. Coun. Bev Esslinger says the shortlist now has nine names on it.

READ MORE: Edmonton reaches ‘milestone’ as city seeks builders for Blatchford

“Many people thought we’d have no interest when we started this project,” Esslinger said. “Twenty-seven looking at it; nine with their dollars coming forward to begin to actively build into the ground.

“I think that’s a good sign that we haven’t made it so impossible that people are interested.”

Lumsden told council’s executive committee the first phase of townhouses will likely be up for sale later this year. About four years down the road, a town centre will be built around the existing airport tower.

“Right now, it’s a pioneering community, so we want to see what the update gives on the first stage of residential,” Lumsden said. “I have also received lots of interest on the town centre. So right now, I think we have it at 2023 in our schedule as to when it would come on, but we will move that up if we think there’s interest and somebody will buy it.”

Talks with the province on expanding NAIT are still ongoing, but should be wrapped up early next year.

Managers won’t rush a decision on the redevelopment’s central energy plan. Natural gas will be a big part of it, but supplementing with renewable energy and/or bio-gas is an option if there’s demand for it.

READ MORE: Details on Blatchford lands development sparks concerns

“We looked at it two ways,” explained Christian Felske, director of Renewable Energy Systems with the city. “What is the technical feasibility right now? It is feasible but we also looked at it from the demand the development needs… Our recommendation right now is to wait and to see what the situation is at the time when we need it.”

The city’s goal for Blatchford is to have close to 30,000 people living on the former airport lands within 20 years.

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