March 05, 2021 | Barb Livingstone
Radius Rising: Bridgeland condo project is a welcome sign of progress for Bucci Developments
When Mike Bucci completes his Radius condo project in early 2019, it's unlikely to be the end of his company's love affair with The Bridges — a redevelopment in the north inner-city neighbourhood of Bridgeland.
In fact, the vice-president development for Bucci Developments says when the City puts the remaining three parcels of land in the last phase of The Bridges on the market he will be first in line to buy.
"We're calling the City every day telling them we're interested," he said. "We love Bridgeland and it's a pretty special site."
The City of Calgary, which has managed development of all 14-hectares of land in The Bridges, has not indicated when that final release will occur, but area Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra says it will be "very shortly."
The three-phased redevelopment project sits north of Memorial Drive and the Bow River and east of Edmonton Trail, anchored by the First Avenue N.E. main street. Much of its final phase has yet to be launched, nearly 20 years after the 1998 demolition of the General Hospital, the site upon which much of The Bridges sits.
It was one of the first forays the City made into urban redevelopment and Carra says while it's been a model from a design perspective, even winning some international awards, the length of time toward completion is partly due to over-regulation among other factors.
We got a favourable price from the City when it sold the land, and we are passing that on to buyers.
"(There was) a belief that density was horrible for a neighbourhood," he said. "But now, everyone wants to live there."
Completion of The Bridges can't come soon enough, says Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association (BRCA) planning director Ali McMillan.
"We are pushing the City hard to get the lots developed," said McMillan, adding that the
project was originally scheduled to be completed by 2008. "Bridgeland is a highly desirable community and we would like to see The Bridges built out."
The development, which is slated to add 2,500 new residents to the community, will not only support the growing business sector, but also the City's stated drive towards Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and densification of inner-city communities.
McMillan, who like Bucci is in regular contact with the City over the last parcels, says BRCA is already engaged in the next phase of the community's future with its proposed East Riverside Master Plan.
The plan looks at potential redevelopment of privately-owned lands located at the base of Tom Campbell's Hill, to Memorial Drive and the CTrain station. Commercial development, links between parks, pathways and other neighbourhood amenities for the diverse population, including a large number of senior residents, will also be considered.
It is a plan Carra enthusiastically supports, acknowledging landowners "looking outside the box" of outdated and unproductive land uses, joining with the "sophisticated" community association to have discussions about Bridgeland's future.
Carra says old oil tanks discovered on the Radius site have delayed the sale of remaining land parcels; the City wants to ensure everything is environmentally sound.
The 201-unit, fully concrete Radius is now rising on a one-acre site adjacent to Bucci's two first-phase projects, Bella Lusso and Bella Citta.
Radius units range in size from 618 square feet to almost 1,400 square feet. Prices start in the low $300,000s. Radius is being constructed with 35 per cent of the project sold – something Bucci says is only slightly risky, given his faith in the development and Bridgeland community.
"We got a favourable price from the City when it sold the land, and we are passing that on to buyers," he said. "There are terrific views of the downtown, with the amenities of the downtown – without the negatives of noise and bustle."
Phase two developments still underway include the second Bridgeland Crossings building by Gablecraft Homes (70 per cent sold and expected to be complete by year end) and Steps (under construction).