Courtesy Minto Communities

For Mariah Wilson, Calgary’s Kensington neighbourhood was a special place when she was growing up. So it’s no surprise the 22-year-old university student – who is currently completing her urban planning degree – was one of the first to buy into Minto Communities’ the Annex project.

“Going to Kensington was like going to Europe with its famous streets,” said Wilson, who grew up in Strathmore, but now lives in Parkdale with her parents.

“I’m happy when I go to the cafés, there’s always lots of young people there. There’s diversity and it’s so close to downtown.”

“When we did market testing, future customers wanted to live in Kensington.” – Greg Mills, Minto Communities

The Annex is Ontario-based Minto’s first project in Calgary, but the company will launch a second inner-city condo development in Bridgeland, called Era, in about six months. There are also other planned projects, including one for southeast Calgary and a master-planned community on 320 acres in Airdrie.

The nine-storey Annex will rise on Kensington’s 9A Street N.W., just a block off trendy 10th Street, with its cafés, boutiques, Safeway and CTrain station. The concrete, LEED-certified building will have 108 units ranging in size from 482 square feet to 1,100 square feet priced from $249,000 to $735,900. Sales just launched and 20 per cent of units are sold.

Minto chose Kensington for its first project, says division president Greg Mills, because “it is one of the best communities in Calgary.”

It has a proven condo market with successful developments around it and, he says, “when we did market testing, future customers wanted to live in Kensington.”

They also didn’t want major building amenities, opting to keep condo fees low instead, because things like gyms and yoga studios already exist in the neighbourhood.

However, the building’s 4,800-square-foot rooftop patio will include a firepit, barbecue area and off-leash dog run for the pet-friendly building.

Minto’s Bridgeland project, located on Fourth Street N.E. at the intersection of First Avenue, will be 13 storeys and include 166 condos. Twenty townhomes will be offered on the west side of the tower and the main floor will house retail offerings, fitting in with the existing small businesses, Blush Lane grocery store, restaurants and cafés in the community.

Like the Annex, Mill says Era is being built into an attractive urban location close to the river, parks, walking/cycling paths and downtown.

For Wilson, who expects to be working downtown after graduation, the ability to walk to work is key.
She also expects that at move-in – in 2020 – her 482-square-foot unit’s value will have already risen.

“It’s such a good investment,” she said. “My dad always told me renting is paying someone else’s mortgage.”