Sustained demand from Canadian buyers and renewed interest from foreigners spurred by the low dollar have convinced Canmore builder Frank Kernick to move forward with a $39-million condominium project, capitalizing on this Rocky Mountain town and its magnetic appeal.
While Calgary, just an hour’s drive east, is feeling the impact of the decline in oil prices in wide-ranging layoffs and slowing activity in the housing sector, Canmore seems to be taking it all in stride.
“We are still getting lots of interest in recreational and retirement properties from high-net-worth purchasers in Alberta and regional markets, and Canmore continues to be popular with Eastern Canadians,” says Mr. Kernick, a local man who built the Spring Creek Mountain Village community on the fringes of Canmore’s downtown. “But what we are seeing is a resurgence of interest from the United Kingdom and the United States, where the low Canadian dollar has once again caught the attention of buyers.”
The 54-unit Creekstone Mountain Lodge – the final element of the Creekstone segment of the overall Spring Creek community – has been under way for a few months now and already more than a dozen of the condos have been spoken for. The four-storey building will offer recreational and full-time buyers one-, two– and three-bedroom floor plans measuring from 730 to 1,800 square feet. One-bedroom prices will start at $349,000; two-bedroom units are priced from $599,000 to $819,000; and the three-bedroom models are priced starting at $990,000. Occupancies are expected to begin in 2016.
Mr. Kernick, whose family has owned the Spring Creek land for nearly a century, says “turmoil caused by the decline in the price of oil has not affected the Bow Valley area west of Calgary,” and he remains confident that the affect will hold at a reduced level.
Mr. Kernick pointed to figures from Sotheby’s International Realty of Canada showing that the 2014 housing market in the valley (which includes Canmore) reported 521 sales (down one per cent from the previous year) while listings gained five per cent. Total inventory for last year was down by 29 per cent from 2008 while sales reached a 109-per-cent year-over-year increase.
“Canmore is at lower levels of inventory than we usually see. The market has been balanced for the past year or so, and we’re expecting it to stay balanced because of the lack of supply,” Mr. Kernick says.
Activity continued in Spring Creek even during the earlier national/international recession that hit midway through 2007 before easing in 2011, and will continue moving forward. During that time, construction started on a 110-unit seniors’ facility called Origin at Spring Creek, as well as Creekside townhomes.
“We’ve seen this in Canmore in the last 20 years, where Calgary’s market would have a dip but Canmore’s would stay relatively flat. The only anomaly was a recession because there was an oversupply of recreational property in the town,” Mr. Kernick says.
Beginning in 2006, three four-storey condo buildings – Glacier Rock Lodge, Moraine Ridge and Rundle Cliffs Lodge – were developed, and all of the 157 units in them have sold. Then in 2010, 24 townhomes were created along the creek. At the same time, Creekstone Lodge was announced. In the spring of 2013, Origin at Spring Creek was launched, with of the 110 units set aside as rentals for seniors in need of supportive living.
“We’ve come a long way since 2006 when we first broke ground on our 70-acre site,” says Mr. Kernick. “And we’re continuing our momentum with the completion of the Creekstone village component.”
He is also committed to making Spring Creek one of the most sustainable communities in the Canadian Rockies, and in that regard he has included geothermal heating and cooling in all residences that have been constructed to BuiltGreen Canada standards. As well, one-quarter of the 70-acre property has been preserved as environmental reserve, thereby protecting creek habitat.
Mr. Kernick has walked the land flanked by Policeman’s Creek and Spring Creek since he was a kid. He and the land have a histor,starting with his grandparents who operated a dairy farm until the 1950s when it became a camp for the workers building the Trans-Canada Highway. From there, the property evolved into a mobile-home park and campground that still exists on the development site.