A local developer is disappointed his proposal for a commercial/residential complex for Capstone area was rejected by the City of Red Deer.
Brian Squires wanted to build a 48-suite residential building with street-level commercial bays in this choice neighbourhood, which is being heavily marketed and invested in by the city. His six-storey building with a roof-top terrace was proposed for a lot with a river view.
Squires said he worked on this proposal for about two years with city officials and thought he was complying with what they wanted.
He was finally told last spring that the project was rejected — and he still doesn’t understand why.
Squires told the Advocate this week that he was informed it would not be accepted on grounds the developer was inexperienced. But he said he was willing to work with a partner who had years of construction experience.
In any case, the city knew his background at the start of negotiations, he added, so why take two years and $50,000 he spent in planning when it could have turned it down from the get-go?
When contacted about Squire’s concerns, the city sent the Advocate an emailed statement: “The city is seeking qualified developer partners who have demonstrated expertise in mixed-use condominium development, who have financial capacity to execute the land purchase and building construction and who have a well articulated sales and operations model.”
Squires’s model would have entailed leased suites instead of condos for purchase. Residents of the building could get some of their money back by eventually re-leasing the suites to others when they want to move out, said Squires.
While city officials did not seem familiar with this model, he maintains it has worked well in other communities for years.
According to the City of Red Deer’s statement, the Land and Economic Development team received interest from Squire’s company, New Phase Developments Ltd., regarding a proposed potential development in Capstone.
“Several business meetings were held to share information. When a formal proposal was received by the city, it was vetted rigorously and thoroughly. In the end, the city did not accept New Phase’s proposal. The city had a conversation with Mr. Squires to advise him of this decision and followed up in writing.”
The city’s statement did not elaborate on why it took a couple of years to come to this decision.
Squires said he feels the City of Red Deer’s planners ultimately picked a condo development that was proposed by Brad Remington of Calgary over his project, and felt the local market wasn’t strong enough to support both projects.
But Remington’s $36 million project did not go ahead, the city confirmed in an email to the Advocate last fall.
“While early interest at Capstone Park was strong, the lingering economic downturn, combined with multiple-waves of COVID-19, have dampened consumer interest,” said the City of Red Deer statement in October.
“Condominium sales in Capstone Park over the past six months have been lower than expected. As a result, Brad Remington Homes has decided to put the project on pause.”
Squires believes he could have made a go of his project and believes the City of Red Deer is “losing good honest hard-working people that actually want to make a difference…
“Uptown is empty, Capstone has not seen one shovel in the ground but $42 million spent of city tax dollars,” said Squires, who noted development has meanwhile been going to Gasoline Alley.
The city stated in an email: “We are in discussions with other developers right now, and at this time no decisions have been made.”