Wood-frame multi-family rentals priority for Edmonton, says Townsend

By Tracey Arial


There’s been a lot of talk about high-density construction in Edmonton, now that the arena is getting underway, but four-storey wood-framed housing for families are needed now.

“There’s a massive appetite for brand new multi-family product,” says Raymond Townsend, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis Limited. “Those people who have gone out and built brand new four-storey multi-family purpose-built rental, they’re finding, on occupancy permit or shortly after, they’re one hundred percent leased.”

What happens in the industrial market is key, he says, and Edmonton’s real estate market revives as the region attains fabrication jobs from Fort McMurray. “When the industrial market does very well, all other markets seem to do well. The kind of housing here is driven by a blue collar market.”

Townsend believes that the condo market will have little or no influence on the rental market over the next year or so, other than offering newer product for rent.

Although Townsend believes that the industry will support the vision for the arena district once it gets underway, he sees few possibilities for high-density construction. Rare successes include the new 237-unit 16-storey new concrete Mayfair Village project by Procura, but that was subsidized. Land values don’t otherwise support the prohibitive cost of concrete and steel construction and zoning regulations prevent wood-frame projects higher than four storeys.

“If they change the requirements and allow for six-storey wood-frames, then the density will increase.”

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