Courtesy Kirk Monhay Photography

Riverside real estate

Waterfront living comes at a premium in the Calgary market

DaVinci Homes CEO Naheed Kazmi utters three magic words when describing the appeal of the 31-unit Riviera on the Bow in Parkdale, one of her company’s most recent projects: “Location, location, location.”

“Everybody wanted that location,” she said, recalling when the company purchased the land in 2008 and how she has received many calls since over the years from would-be buyers.

In this case, one of the main reasons for that parcel of land’s popularity is its placement across from the Bow River. The resulting Riviera on the Bow offers 180-degree river views from second- and third-floor units. “From some units, you can even see the river moving,” said Kazmi.

Moreover, Kazmi says, Riviera on the Bow is “only a stone’s throw from downtown,” close to the shopping and dining hubs of Marda Loop and Kensington, and right across the road from Calgary’s extensive pathway system.

Riviera on the Bow opened its show home last September, and Kazmi says only three units remain for sale.

“The majority of our units are larger – 1000 square feet and up (with prices starting just over $500,000 for the larger sizes) – as we’re not building for investors and renters,” she said. “We’re building for the high-end buyer.

“This is a unique spot. You’re close to the river, the mountains and the downtown, and because it’s in Parkdale, you don’t have another high rise next door.”

Moving down the Bow River towards the downtown core, Anthem Properties’ master-planned community, Waterfront, is in the desirable Eau Claire area. When Anthem purchased the land in 2006, it was a merely a bus barn, but the location next to the core and the river was too good to pass up.

“Waterfront opportunities next to urban cores are exceptionally rare . . . The biggest reason we bought this property was the location and the river setting,” said Paul Faibish, vice-president of development at Anthem.

“Waterfront opportunities next to urban cores are exceptionally rare . . . The biggest reason we bought this property was the location and the river setting,” – Paul Faibish, vice-president of development at Anthem Properties.

“Waterfront, and our final phase, Parkside, was designed to take advantage of the water views and the park space, with big windows and terraced balconies towards the river, so almost every home has a view of the water,” said Faibish. “The exterior design of Parkside reflects the movement of the water. Inside, we focused on creating as much natural light as possible by moving the elevators to the edge of the building, and maximizing water views and exposure to Sien Lok Park.”

Greg Macdonald of Sage Appraisals says proximity to a river has an undeniable impact on property value, depending upon just how close a structure is to the water.

Macdonald says the key phrase to consider is “plume of influence,” which, he notes, can vary greatly from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

“The closer one is to a river, the greater the influence on property value,” he said. “As one gets farther and farther away, the less influential it tends to become.

“Riverfront properties tend to be the most valuable, followed by properties with river views and then those in close proximity to the river.”

Macdonald says the same rules apply to both detached, single-family dwellings and condo developments. He finds river views are more important when it comes to condos, while being riverfront is more relevant to detached-home value.

However, many properties whose values are impacted by river proximity are already built within “estate-calibre” districts, such as Elbow Park and Roxboro. As Macdonald explains, this is in keeping with the principle of balance, which sees an expensive piece of land commanding a high-value home.

“These are highly sought-after neighbourhoods, so, even once you move farther away off the river, there’s not as much degradation when it comes to the plume of influence,” he said.

On the other hand, there are some communities where the plume of influence is limited only to those properties that either back onto the river or are right across the street from it. “Once you get beyond the railway tracks in Bowness, for example, the positive benefits of being close to the river diminish greatly,” said Macdonald.

He adds that Calgary’s 2013 flood also negatively impacted the positive influence river proximity had on property values. In fact, he analyzed the flood’s impact in Roxboro and discovered that, immediately after the flood, land values were down by a third.

But, he says, this post-flood negative impact doesn’t last long.

“The effects of a flood are based on the severity and frequency of flooding, and the data suggests people have short memories.”

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