David Parker: Minto to develop former Viscount Bennett lands

Minto is looking forward to revitalizing almost 11.5 acres that are essentially inner city

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The former Viscount Bennett High School site — that has been such an eyesore for the neighbourhood and travellers along Crowchild Trail for so long — is in the planning stages to be transformed into multi-residential buildings that will connect with the existing community.

Built in the 1950s, after the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) closed the school it was the home of Chinook Learning Services. But since 2018, it has been a vacant property and it gradually deteriorated into an unsightly group of buildings.

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CBE contracted Marco Rosso and Brad Kroeker of Cushman Wakefield to sell the property and the successful purchaser is Minto Communities, a division of Minto Group.

Greg Mills, president of Minto Western Canada and former division president here with Mattamy Homes for 15 years, says the company is excited to be able to create a new vision for the site to transform it into a residential community with distinctive green spaces, ensuring that buildings and spaces in between coalesce into a place of comfort, convenience, usability and enjoyment.

Known for the time being by its municipal address as 2501 Richmond, Mills says, “At Minto, we see the development as an opportunity to enhance the Richmond Knob Hill green space, while bringing much needed housing to Calgary during such a crucial time.” With the city expecting to gain around 68,000 new residents this year alone, 2501 Richmond aims to offer 2,500 residences to help satisfy the demand.

Norah Fraser, a member of the senior leadership team at Minto as vice-president development — armed with her BA from McGill and an MBA from the Haskayne School of Business, and 17 years of experience in building master planned communities — is the key Minto executive responsible for directing the new development.

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“The proposed plan is based on the belief that diverse and connected places contribute to resilient communities and neighbourhoods,” she said. “Introducing a greater variety of housing types will attract different demographics and create more housing options during a time when residential housing is more urgent than ever.”

Mills added that driving by, people are not able to appreciate the size of the site. Minto is looking forward to revitalizing almost 11.5 acres that are essentially inner city.

B&A Studios has been working on the master plan. Managing partner Kathy Oberg says, “The 2501 Richmond Road site is one of the very few re-development opportunities of this scale within Calgary’s established communities. It’s exciting to be part of Minto’s team and the applicant of this meaningful redevelopment opportunity for our city.”

The homes will include multi-family residences from four- to six-storey buildings on the south of the site to high-rise on the northeast corner facing onto Crowchild Trail.

The location is ideal with a 10-minute commute for people working in the downtown core, steps away to Bus Rapid Transit and walking distance to the Marda Loop High Street shopping district.

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Currently the unsafe playground equipment on the land is being moved, windows are securely boarded up, and full-time security presence is in place that includes cameras.

Supplying new homes is what Minto does well; it recently celebrated the design and construction of 100,000 homes in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and South Florida. But it is in the creation of high-quality and sustainable urban developments that has made Minto an industry leader.

2501 Richmond Road will provide 40 per cent of the site as public assembly space for gathering, playing and passive relaxing, enhanced walking and cycling pathways, improvements to roads and intersections and thoughtful streetscape design.

Minto is inviting nearby residents and other interested parties to a virtual open house on Nov. 29 and a live consultation on Nov. 30.

With necessary approvals received, Minto expects to begin site work in 2024 and get shovels in the ground to begin the first phase of the lower buildings at the southern end of the site in late 2025.

Calgary researcher Dr. Ketul Patel has been awarded the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation-Postdoctoral, for his work to develop non-opioid, non-addictive, pain medication. Working under the supervision of professor Darren Derksen in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary, Patel was recognized for making a major advancement in pain management. Collaborating with Calgary-based Zymedyne Therapeutics, the goal is to bring safer,  more effective pain treatments to market.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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Originally posted 2023-11-23 12:00:29.