Construction values in St. Albert last year soared to numbers not seen since 2017, say city officials, thanks in part to a major industrial facility.
Values of new builds hit $200 million in 2020, marking a 40-per-cent increase from 2019 and the highest values seen in three years.
Construction increasing in the city, especially during the pandemic, shows confidence by investors, said Michael Erickson, acting director of economic development for the City of St. Albert.
"There really is confidence in our market," Erickson said.
Much of the construction boost is attributed to industrial construction, with the city seeing $44 million of construction in that sector, a sharp increase from the $2 million in 2019. Industrial construction accounted for 22 per cent of permits in 2020.
Industrial construction can fluctuate from year to year, Erickson said, with big projects increasing numbers drastically. In 2020, the city saw construction start on the Uline Shipping Supplies facility, a 600,000-square-foot distribution facility worth $27 million. In the Campbell and Anthony Henday business parks, two industrial office building were constructed, each pegged at $6 million.
Office space in St. Albert has been in high demand, Erickson said, adding the new facilities are already 70 to 80 per cent leased.
"These aren't being built and sitting vacant – they've already got tenants waiting to move into those buildings," Erickson said.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said the long-term jobs associated with these facilities is also good news.
"It's a big focus not on just getting the properties in, but we want to make sure those properties come with a high amount of good-paying jobs," Heron said.
Residential construction declined slightly from $99 million in 2019 to $96 million in 2020. Heron said one reason may be that the city recently amended its land use bylaw to allow more multi-family housing, such as condos, row houses and townhouses – a whole new market for developers.
The mayor said St. Albert has come through COVID-19 a bit better than other communities, so there may be more people looking to buy and sell homes here.
"We have a lot of people in St. Albert that are employed by government and they haven't been hit as hard as some of the private sectors," Heron said, noting many medical professionals, teachers, firefighters and police officers live in the city.
Construction values for public institutions increased last year as well to $45 million, as projects like the replacement of Paul Kane High School and the replacement for Fire Hall #1 got off the ground.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette