11/04/2014 05:33 EST | Updated 01/04/2015 05:59 EST

Build Great and Build Green: Real Estate Development in Alberta

Lane Oatey via Getty Images

It's a good time to be a real estate developer in Alberta. Projects are going up at a rapid pace to meet demand in major cities. People need places to gather in public and developers must find creative ways of providing them, while pushing the limits of what they believe is possible.

It's our responsibility -- not legislators' -- to integrate green spaces into residential developments. Across Alberta, employment rates and growing incomes, combined with low mortgage rates, are creating sustained and significant population gains. In Calgary alone, housing starts for the first half of 2014 (9,294 units) are on a massive 67 per cent upswing from the same period in 2013 and the value of new housing is increasing, according to a new market manuscript released by Fortress Real Developments.

According to the manuscript, with the housing demand and current supply in Calgary, the city has a shortage of rental units and remains undersupplied in terms of number of sales listings on the market, new or resale.

Edmonton is also booming, with the population growth more than doubling that of Calgary. Unabsorbed supply of units is steadily decreasing, and higher sales prices are being accepted by the market, with new condo sales way up.

With this growth, real estate developers in Alberta are presented with a significant opportunity and a great responsibility.

I'm a huge advocate of urbanism and condo buildings that integrate seamlessly into the heart of downtown communities. I'm driven by an architectural standard that's maintained not only in the suites and amenities, but exteriors of my projects. The key to a great residential condo is about coming into a neighbourhood where restaurants, cafés and amenities are steps away. It's about building communities and creating environments where residents can live, work and play.

If you look at Calgary and Edmonton, their skylines full of construction cranes, developers must do more than 'aim for height'. As the old adage goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day". Developers must be creative and work closely with architects to foster the development of robust communities that reflect cohesive design, and feature functional buildings that people want to live in.

Another consideration is preserving green spaces in downtown areas. Canadians are among the most eco-conscious in the world and simply demand the integration of real vegetation into their urban jungles. In fact, a recent study by Lamb Development Corp. found that a whopping 93 per cent of Canadians surveyed would like to see more green space in downtown cores.

One trend to watch is urban food production. Our survey found that 90 per cent of Canadians support growing food downtown. Lamb Development's answer to this: The Orchard -- two 31-storey condo towers separated by a one-acre apple orchard in the heart of Calgary. The first of its kind in Canada.

As Calgary and Edmonton continue to grow and prosper, I encourage the development community to create meaningful condos that foster the downtown cores, contribute to the walkability of the city centres and provide great, affordable homes for residents.

For more information about Lamb Development Corp, please visit and learn more about The Orchard and its innovate concept, visit here at


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