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High-end homes still going up in Cypress County despite economic woes

Posted on August 30, 2016 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
High-end home construction appears to be chugging along in the area, despite delays in some premier communities, stalled activity in others and a general feeling of economic uneasiness in the region. Meadowlands plans to complete final servicing this month to open Desert Blume Phase D South in the hamlet on the city’s southern boundary. That will bring 62 new lots on the market — one-quarter of which are already sold — for luxury home construction in the community that bills itself as a high-end destination with lower taxes for those looking to get out of the city.
“Desert Blume really sets itself apart from other developments in the city,” said Ivan Becker, lead real estate agent for the development with Better Home and Gardens Signature Service Real Estate, and a resident. He cites architectural and community standard controls as a key selling point, as well as the ability to build large homes on large lots.
“Desert Blume offers urban amenities but a rural environment,” said Becker, who says he has 15 commitments to date from mainly professionals or retirees. “The majority of buyers are individuals, people looking to build a dream home.”
The most expensive lot — a pie-shaped parcel that backs onto the golf-course’s sixth green —has already been claimed for the asking price of $283,000, or about $22 per square foot of land. Lots begin at $135,000, which Becker calls comparable to City of Medicine Hat developments. The city finance department uses a market figure of $17 per square foot for serviced, vacant lots. That gives a regular 50-foot-by-150-foot lot a value of $127,000.
In Dunmore, 22 lots in Eagle Ridge show 2014 listed prices between $150,000 and $173,000, not including GST. Inside city limits, the recent city land department annual report details extremely slow lot sales at its final Vista Heights community. A higher-end offering known as River Walk, below still unsold portions of Ranchlands, is several years away from market.
Grant MacKay, the recently named manager of the department, said a key goal is to reduce the city’s lot inventory compared to private sector activity.
“Sales have been suppressed, so we are leery about adding inventory and essentially flooding lots onto the market,” said MacKay.
Some private developers are also pushing off projects.
On Wednesday, the developer behind Canyon Creek Estates — located in the Seven Persons Creek coulee inside city limits — applied to push off a planned 12-lot offering until next year.
All is not booming in other parts of the county either. This month, developer Lansdowne Equities wrote to Cypress County council stating a potential subdivision in Irvine would require further concessions from the municipality or be shelved until conditions improved.
Within city limits, Lansdowne has said it would need to hit presale hurdles in its Hamptons development before more land clearing and serviced lots would come on the market there.

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