There was a buzz of optimism in the air this weekend, as the Cranbrook development on the banks of the St. Mary River was relaunched under new management.
The residential development formerly known as Shadow Mountain had been hit hard by the economic downturn of 2008/2009, and has been in a state of suspended animation for the past few years.
But on Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, announcing that the property now known as River’s Crossing was open for business under new ownership. The sales office is currently in the golf course club house, where the ceremony was held.
Munir Varani — Chief Executive Officer of Edmonton-based Westpoint Capital which recently purchased the development — was on hand, as was Norm Chauvette, the CEO of Denille Industries, the Edmonton-based oil and gas company which earlier this year purchased the Shadow Mountain Golf Course (still known by that name).
Virani told those assembled that while the development has had its share of challenges, Westpoint Capital has the “experience, skill and know-how to navigate around those challenges.”
The golf course has been in steady operation over the past few years, of course. And on the development itself, more than 45 lots have been sold, and some 10 houses are actually occupied.
Virani said the process of taking over an existing development is different from starting a development from scratch.
“There are a lot of existing vested interests,” he said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears have (already gone into the project), and we have to pay attention to those interests, including the golf course.”
He said there were several key ingredients to making a project such as this successful. First is financial stability (“which Westpoint Capital and Denille Industries can provide, Virani said).
The second is the support of the community, especially the City of Cranbrook.
“Before we even got involved, we met with the City and had some very supportive dialogue. One of the reasons we got involved was having that support from the City.”
Virani also mentioned the strong team the project had in place: project manager Marty Gunderson, site manager Darryn Burant, and the “sales powerhouse team” of Irene Barnes and Brenda Owe. Relationships with neighbouring St. Eugene Resort and New Dawn Development were also good, he said. And the area had three “star attractions: the world-class golf course, the world-class mountain views and the St. Mary River.
“Where do you get that trifecta of star qualities within a city — Cranbrook?” Virani said. “That’s what’s really got us excited.
“There’s a lot of hard work ahead,” Virani continued. “It’s a sprint, not a marathon. But we’re excited about the project, about the community and about the team. We’re in it for the long haul.”
River’s Crossing is working closely with the adjoining Shadow Mountain Golf Course, and Norm Chauvette, CEO of Denille Industries, said “the goals and interests are aligned to make this the best place in Canada.
“We’re off to a great start,” he said. We’re fully intending to make this the best golf course in the area.
“If we give the people what they want — great customer service and a superior project — they’ll come in droves.”
Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski said the revitalization of the project was a further sign that local economic indicators were good. City business licenses number about 1,400, and Stetski said a further 52 letters welcoming new businesses had been sent out so far. And as Cranbrook is considered the sunniest city in B.C., Stetski said Friday’s ceremony represented Shadow Mountain coming out of the shadows and into the sunlight.