Opportunities continue to present in one of Canada's wealthiest regions, with retailers and developers clamouring to invest in the County of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Despite recent press about low oil prices negatively affecting the province, the County of Grande Prairie is booming due to economic diversification that includes commerce, forestry, agriculture, and energy (exploration, services and production). The County's master-planned community, Clairmont Heights, is seeing tremendous interest from investors, and there's still opportunity for retailers and investors to become involved in the building of an entirely new community.
The County of Grande Prairie is at a considerable advantage when compared to surrounding areas. Residential property taxes are lower than neighbouring jurisdictions, primarily due to the County's substantial commercial tax base. Recognizing this benefit, demand for housing is fierce and developers are addressing demand by investing millions into new housing starts. Remarkably the County of Grand Prairie, with a population of just 28,000, has a third of the number of housing starts of booming Saskatchewan with a population of over one million.
The ability to create a master-planned community is a huge benefit to the County. Called Clairmont Heights, the County's new village centre will feature a commercial high street featuring at-grade retailers, with residences above. Population projections could see an additional 6,000 residences housing an anticipated 15,000 people. Density will dissipate from the core to feature subdivisions of attached and detached homes, while substantial commercial centres will be developed along busy Highway 2, which sees substantial vehicle traffic accessing various parts of the region. Schools, recreation and other amenities will be optimally placed within the master-planned region, with further benefit gained from being located on Clairmont Lake.
In June, the County held a highly successful economic summit, where it highlighted considerable demand for new retailers in a recent market gap analysis (PDF). Potential investors, retailers, landlords and other interested parties were presented with immediate retail opportunities for grocers, liquor stores, banks, coffee shops, as well as a variety of other categories. Despite its relatively small population, the County of Grande Prairie's purchasing power is exceptional. It boasts an average household income of $109,000 annually and with a lower-than-average cost of living, residents have exceptionally high discretionary incomes. As a result, demand for new retail is substantially higher than in similar-sized communities lacking exceptional growth and affluence.
Several major retailers are showing interest in the master-planned community, and there is still considerable opportunity for retailers and investors. County of Grande Prairie's Economic Development Manager, Chris King, will be at ICSC Toronto on October 5 to 7 with Dale Bellavance, CEO of Bell Group International and Brooks Hoffos, CEO of Fuse Realty. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Chris King at: 780-513-3956 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.