Feature story from the Calgary Herald:
When it comes to moving to a new downtown condo kitty corner from her current home, Nancy McGuire is taking the long view. “I’m downscaling slightly in square footage, but I’m upscaling in floor level,” says the Calgary nurse about her purchase of a unit in the two-tower Avenue condo complex. “I have gone high enough to keep a river view.” When she saw the plans for the project, which is in the West End community of downtown Calgary, she knew it was her chance to move to a new home with her dream view. “That’s the key thing about why I’m moving. I live facing 6th Avenue and in retrospect wanted 5th Avenue and the river view, so that’s what I did.”
Avenue is a 319-unit complex under development by Grosvenor Americas and Cressey Development Group. Sales have begun on the 24-storey east tower. McGuire decided to buy above the highest possible building that could be built on an empty lot next to Avenue. This ensures that she will always have an unimpeded view. As buildings approach the river in Calgary, they tend to get shorter to prevent shadowing of the river. “I wanted two bedrooms and two bathrooms, so I kept that. The downsizing in square footage is minimal,” McGuire says of her B Unit plan. At 893 square feet, the unit offers views of the river from both north-facing bedrooms.
Sales at Avenue launched at the beginning of November and the project has been well-received by homebuyers, says Michael Ward, vice-president in charge of Grosvenor’s Calgary development program.“We are very pleased,” he says of the launch. “We are starting to mobilize construction on the site now. Fencing is going up this week and we’ll start mobilizing the site trailers.” Excavation is expected to begin in January. It will take about six months of excavation and shoring work before the concrete begins to be poured. “The other big milestone is that the permit from the city should be issued prior to the end of the year, which is why we’re getting ready on the site now,” says Ward. Once construction begins in earnest, Ward expects the sales centre to see a boost in traffic. “A lot of people like to see the reality of a project going ahead, and we tend to see a flurry of sales and activity at that point, as we did at the launch,” he says.
Those touring the sales centre, with its two show suites, are commenting on the quality of appliances and finishes, as well as the unit floor plans, says Ward. The CresseyKitchen designs have also impressed people looking for a new condo. “It’s this idea of having not just the back wall of the kitchen — with cabinets and countertops and the island — but having this third wall on the side of the kitchen, where the fridges are and the full-height pantries,” says Ward. “That’s something that people, certainly in a condo, haven’t seen — so much storage and functionality in a kitchen.”
During cold snaps, people who work downtown can either bundle up for the walk or can hop on the CTrain — Avenue is within the downtown free fare zone — and ride to the office. The development is also close to the Peace Bridge and a short walk to the Kensington shopping and restaurant district. Calgary’s cold weather is what convinced McGuire to move into a multi-family development in the first place. Her initial home in the city was a starter townhome in the northwest. “I’m a nurse working shift work. I got very sick of scraping windows at six in the morning in the winter, so I wanted a garage,” she says. “A heated garage and close to where I work is originally why I chose downtown West.”
She also likes the lifestyle aspect of condo fees that cover the maintenance details of the building. “I’m not so much into roof maintenance, hot water heaters, furnaces, that sort of thing,” she says. As a single person, McGuire is looking forward to the concierge service offered to residences, as well as the security aspect it provides. Most of all, she is happy to remain in the centre of the city. “I grew up in the downtown area in the Elboya area,” she says. “The Bow River is like family to me. There’s a comfort with the fact that I’m right beside the Bow River. How beautiful is that?” She did look at many communities before she moved to the West End, finding she kept being drawn back to the river. “Walking around a lake would be wonderful — but walking or riding a bike miles and miles west or east on the Bow River is gorgeous.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Developer: Grosvenor Americas and Cressey Development Group.
Location: West End of downtown Calgary.
Prices: Two-bedroom units start at $539,900, while one-bedroom models start at $332,900. Prices do not include GST. Condo fees are expected to be in the range of 49 cents per square foot.
Information: Visit the website at avenuewestend.com.
CLOSE TO AMENITIES: Avenue, a new two-tower condo apartment building planned by Grosvenor in Calgary’s downtown West End, is close to many amenities. The pathways along the Bow River are practically across the street from Avenue. Shopping is also close by, with the midtown Co-op a few blocks away and the Kensington Safeway just across the Peace Bridge. The Eau Claire Market and Kensington areas are close at hand for cafes and unique shops.
THE BUYERS: Nancy McGuire.
Background: McGuire is a nurse who loves living in the West End of downtown Calgary. When the two-tower Avenue condo complex opened sales, she decided to move next door from her current home to a new one with a view over the Bow River.