By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Fort McKay First Nation and developer Landrex are splitting the cost of a $176-million urban village in St. Albert, which is set to be one of the largest First Nation real estate holdings in the Edmonton region.
The development will be located at the east side of St. Albert Trail and Coal Mine Road on a 12.85-acre parcel of land.
This is the second time For McKay and Landrex have partnered on a real estate development. Last year, they made a joint investment in a $27-million multi-family complex in Beaumont, which is still under construction.
Chris Johnson, the CEO of Fort McKay First Nation, told St. Albert Today that the urban village will be the largest real estate investment in Fort McKay’s history but “it won’t be their last.”
The nation has diversified its portfolio outside of real estate, having purchased a 40 per cent equity in GlassMasters Auto Glass, he said.
“We’re analyzing a number of investment opportunities every day,” Johnson said, adding that these investments will help shield the First Nation from volatility within the oil and gas sector. “We’re going to be sustainable for many years to come after the oil sands are gone.”
Sophie Baran, the executive vice president of Landrex, said the urban village will be a multi-family, mixed-use development centred on a one-acre park.
The plan is for there to be 300 long-term rental residential units, as well as 100 assisted living.
“We’re really going to focus on pedestrian walkability,” Baran told St. Albert Today, adding that there will be about 60,000 to 90,000 square feet of commercial space on the site.
Construction is slated to begin in spring and it will be completed in phases, with construction of the first residential building starting in autumn, which is expected to be completed in 18 months. The village will be fully finished in five years.
Chief Mel Grandjamb said in a news release announcing the partnership that he looks forward “to continue growing and diversifying our business portfolio.”
“We have put an emphasis on the Nation’s long-term economic sustainability plan, and the Urban Village in St. Albert will be another huge accomplishment for the Nation,” Grandjamb said.
Landrex CEO Larry Andrews said the company “look[s] forward to fostering our relationship with our partners to bring this vision to fruition.”
“We have an opportunity to work with an amazing group of people and qualified partners at table in this exciting project that will pioneer new development in St. Albert,” Andrews said.