Economic slowdown delays housing project in Springbrook

A developer’s request to extend a deadline for beginning work on a housing project in Springbrook is an unmistakable sign of a slowing economy, but Red Deer County Mayor Earl Kinsella is confident it is a temporary lull.

A developer’s request to extend a deadline for beginning work on a housing project in Springbrook is an unmistakable sign of a slowing economy, but Red Deer County Mayor Earl Kinsella is confident it is a temporary lull.

County council approved a developer’s request on Tuesday for a one-year subdivision approval extension on the fifth phase of the Malibu Communities subdivision in Springbrook. The previous subdivision approval for the 78 residential lots on eight acres was due to expire May 20.

“The applicant has indicated that due to the economy, an extension of time is required to meet the conditions of the subdivision,” says a report to council.

Audrey Corry, of Malibu Communities, said the project’s first phase is pretty much full, but there are still lots available in the next three phases so the company decided to hold off for a little while.

“The situation is still very good. The economy has obviously had an effect and it’s slowed down a little bit on lot sales.”

There are already some encouraging signs, said Corry. A recent home show generated interest and spring typically brings out more buyers.

“We’re just kind of sitting back and waiting to see what happens.”

Kinsella said there is no doubt that development has slowed in the county, “but it hasn’t stopped. It’s still going ahead.”

The first major residential component for Liberty Junction is still expected to get underway this spring.

B.C. developer Century Group Lands Corp. is looking at building townhouses and a four-storey apartment building as the first step to developing up to 1,150 homes in pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods.

Many other projects are still underway in Central Alberta, and Kinsella predicts entrepreneurs will be stepping forward to take advantage of falling construction prices to get their projects going.

Kinsella said taking a break from the superheated economy of a couple of years ago will offer some relief. Prices are now being corrected to more “reasonable” levels.

The county has already seen construction costs come down on some of its projects. That means the county can get more work done with the same number of tax dollars.

Kinsella feels Albertans have an edge on some other provinces when handling economic downturns.

“In Alberta, we’re more optimistic. We’re doers; we’re not whiners,” he said with a smile.

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