Feb 29, 2024

StreetSide Developments Edmonton Takes on Leading Role in City’s Historic Blatchford Community

Edmonton, AB – StreetSide Developments Edmonton is taking a leading role in building the city’s largest multi-family community – Blatchford. The community is home to 536 acres located at the former downtown Edmonton airport and the business unit’s first project will feature four buildings with a total of 26 units.

The entire Blatchford site is approximately the same size as Edmonton’s current downtown, and includes around 270 acres of developable land for residential/mixed-use buildings. The site will have just over 80 acres of park space; 42.68 acres of storm ponds, public utilities and promenade; 7.88 acres of business industrial (northeast corner of site); 9.91 acres of existing commercial; and around 126 acres of light rail transit (LRT), roadways and bike lanes.

There are six stage areas of 75+ acres currently under development in Blatchford. In the first four stages of development, there are 171 units completed or currently under construction, 112 units planned for land that has been sold to builders, and approximately 894 units planned for land that is pending sale to builders.

The Blatchford office will also begin work on servicing the next stage of residential development this year, and that is expected to bring another 196 fee-simple townhomes to the community.

Servicing of Blatchford started in fall 2023, and StreetSide Developments’ first showhome in the Alpha phase is slated to open in summer 2024. At full buildout, Blatchford is anticipated to have approximately 11,000-12,000 units, which aligns with its vision of being ‘home to up to 30,000 Edmontonians living, working and learning in a sustainable community.’

Residents of the community will include workers from surrounding areas and those living in nearby older neighbourhoods who are looking to upgrade. Blatchford will likely attract investors as well.

Map of the Blatchford Community and its areas – click here to visit the website and zoom in more to see the features

The community will have a shared garden, parks, and a playground, and will be conveniently located near major Edmonton landmarks, including the University of Alberta, Rogers Place, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. StreetSide Developments Edmonton is the largest of seven builders participating in the Blatchford development.

Tom Lumsden, Blatchford Development Manager, City of Edmonton, said Blatchford is an exciting project and the City is happy to work with StreetSide Developments on its development and growth.

“Blatchford is growing and we’re thrilled to welcome StreetSide Developments in making it a place to call home for Edmontonians looking to blend an environmentally-conscious mindset with all the benefits of a central, urban lifestyle,” he said. “Blatchford is becoming one of the largest sustainable communities in North America, so this really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something truly impactful.”

An Uncertain Start

When StreetSide Developments was initially selected as one of the original builders for Blatchford in 2018, the business unit decided it wasn’t a good fit at that time for a variety of reasons, including costs, architectural requirements, and there not being a large enough land commitment.

Since that time, however’ the City had changed some of its requirements, which made StreetSide Developments reconsider its participation in the community. With StreetSide Developments being the largest townhome builder in the city at a 54% market share, it makes sense that the company have a presence in Blatchford.

Nicholas Carels, Vice-President, StreetSide Developments Edmonton, said Blatchford is an ideal opportunity for StreetSide Developments to do its part in helping build better cities, with benefits for Edmonton and the company.

“By participating in this community, we can be a part of ensuring Blatchford reaches its full potential and offer Edmontonians a home that is unique in location, amenities, and features, while maintaining relative affordability,” he said. “We are also stretching our skillset, along with that of our trade, supplier, and consultant partners. By broadening our expertise, we can selectively and responsibly exercise our learnings from Blatchford across our suburban product lines to enhance our overall brand in the region.”

Blatchford will allow StreetSide Developments to take its most popular multi-family home models (including the Abbey and Gabriel models) to an entirely new group of homebuyers, but not without some changes that are specific to this new community.

Focus on Efficiency and Sustainability

Geothermal energy is being used in the community and the homes will be part of a district energy system – a City-run private utility for Blatchford only. The utility has its own mandate to grow and to provide energy to the homeowners of Blatchford at no additional cost compared to what it would take to heat a home conventionally, but with the benefit of being renewable and sustainable.

Shawn Kosowan, Business Manager, StreetSide Developments Edmonton, said that the business unit will be tying its site into the geothermal loop that makes up the district energy system and that it’s the first time the team has worked with geothermal as an energy source for their homes.

“There are thermal metres installed instead of a typical power or gas consumption metre,” he explained. “Those measure how much thermal energy a home uses, and homeowners get charged for that thermal energy.”

Due to the complexity of the requirements and the review process, approval for StreetSide Developments Edmonton’s product in Blatchford took almost a year – about double what it would normally take – including the land purchase and product design. Kelly Otting, Senior Project Manager, StreetSide Developments Edmonton, described it as an intense process.

“It involved more layers of engineering review than we're normally used to,” he said. “As an example, for our building design at this size, we would normally be looking at two different engineers – one for the site works and one for the buildings. We're dealing with four different engineers now, all of them with different specialties. It's a really interesting task in collaboration.”

Working with geothermal energy and the district energy system meant that StreetSide Developments had some challenges to face while designing product and ensuring it fit within the community’s requirements, as noted by Shawn.

“We had a big learning curve,” he said. “We needed to adapt our processes and procedures, and then we needed to figure out how to take those adaptations and change them into our production mindset.”

Joel MacKinnon, Design and Drafting Manager, StreetSide Developments Edmonton, shared that there have been some benefits to the longer process in terms of design, although many aspects such as walls, fixtures, and installation are the same as the builder’s product in other communities.

“Our exterior designs are pretty bang on in terms of being cost-effective and what the City is looking for out there,” he said. “That's without getting into the finer details of making changes and getting approval. We had already been working on reducing air changes and making more efficient product. This was essentially a test project for us.”

Despite a more complex process, the team still managed to have a quick turnaround from getting the green light for the first stage in late spring/early summer last year to having the site fully serviced by the end of last year.

Making Homeownership Accessible

With StreetSide Developments already having a focus on energy efficiency, sustainability and quality building before embarking on the project in Blatchford, taking existing product and making changes to meet the standards for Blatchford has made it easier to keep homes in the community affordable.

“We've been focused over the last two years here to bring our products up to the highest standards they can be without increasing the costs, and we're doing that through design, quality care, attention, and basic procedures,” said Shawn. “We're putting a high-performance package, primarily mechanical that’s offered as a bolt-on item, in our standard product. Not having to make a bunch of wholesale changes with cost additions is part of the reason we’ve been able to keep the cost down.”

The size of the product is also a factor in affordability. The builder will first be bringing its 14-ft.-wide models into the community and later its 11-ft.-wide models (such as Nero 2), according to Kelly.

“This allows us to get a level of density on these sites that is really desirable, both from the city perspective and also from a costing perspective on our side,” he said. “When we can divide all of that infrastructure by more units, we end up with a much lower cost per door for our site infrastructure and land. That’s really advantageous for us to be able to justify the cost of the land, the infrastructure or the heating system, and everything in between.”

Developing Within City Limits

According to Joel, another aspect of the Blatchford community that’s less common for the StreetSide Developments team is that it’s an infill (or brownfield) site rather than a greenfield one. Infill developments occur within city limits and involve unused land or land that has existing buildings that will be demolished before redevelopment. This is in contrast to greenfield developments that occur on fields outside of cities.


“We've traditionally built affordable product on the greenfield outskirts of Edmonton,” he said. “So it’s really exciting that we're going to be able to offer our same product in the centre of Edmonton. It's a prime area for people commuting to downtown and there's not a lot of opportunities for this kind of development in the core. That's definitely a benefit for StreetSide Developments and for Qualico.”

What’s Next

The StreetSide Developments team is viewing this first project as the beginning of a long-term relationship with the City of Edmonton and Blatchford, and Kelly said the team is currently planning the next site in the community, with permitting and first-stage servicing expected to happen this year.

“Not only does this reflect the learning experiences and collaboration we've done on our first Blatchford site with the City, but it also reflects the collaboration we’ve done within Qualico by utilizing models and plans that StreetSide Developments Winnipeg currently builds,” he said. “We're taking some of those plans and we're adapting them to the Edmonton market and putting them into a high-profile development. Those plans are coming all the way from the great minds of Winnipeg.”

The team is also in the process of 23 fee-simple lots, which are a non-condo format where homebuyers would own their own piece of land, but with connected smaller bungalow homes. The start time for those homes would likely be this summer or fall. Kelly shared that the team will be looking for more land positions as they move through blocks in the community.

Blatchford has the potential to be a multi-decade land source for StreetSide Developments, and through the team’s partnership in collaborating with the City of Edmonton and learning from the initial stages of building in the community and meeting its unique requirements, the business unit is well-positioned to make the most of the opportunity to bring affordable, energy-efficient homes to Edmontonians for years to come.


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