A troubled development within City of Cranbrook limits, sitting on the banks of the St. Mary River, is in full rejuvenation mode.
The property formerly known as Shadow Mountain has been purchased by Westpoint Capital, an Edmonton investment fund manager. And Westpoint has invited the public to a pair of open houses at the site — now known as River’s Crossing — this upcoming weekend, Friday and Saturday.
Earlier this year, the adjacent golf course was purchased by an Edmonton-based oil and gas company.
Among those who will attend this weekend’s open house will be Westpoint Chief Executive Officer Munir Virani, who spoke to the Townsman on Monday about River’s Crossing.
“It’s a great opportunity and we’re really excited about it,” Virani said. “We think it’s great news for Cranbrook as well, to finally get some certainty about what’s happening with their ‘northern border’ of the city.”
On Friday, May 30, at 4 p.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially launch Westpoint’s involvement with the development.
“Our sales centre has been open, but this will be our official opening of the sales centre,” Virani said. “And we’ll be officially announcing to the community that we have purchased the development and are open for business.”
He said the original vision of Shadow Mountain remains sound. “It continues to have strong, attractive draws to anyone who wants to live in an area that has the amenities you want, to live the life you need, but have the beautiful mountains, the river, the ponds, the golf course — it’s just a very rich place to live in terms of lifestyle,” Virani said.
Currently 47 lots have been sold in the development, Virani said, with 10 houses built and residents living on the property. “So this is not something that’s starting from scratch. This is something where there was a lot of momentum, there was a lot of interest.
“All that’s required here is to pick up where people left off, and finish what was started, to create a blended community with a lot of different housing types to ensure that we have ongoing value for the community, that it’s sustainable, so builders have confidence they can build houses there, so residents can have confidence that they can live there.”
He added that the original development was beset by considerable bad luck, with two factors in particular that hit the region very hard — the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, and the introduction of the harmonized sales tax in B.C. in 2010.
“This development itself had impeccable timing in terms of the worst timing possible,” Virani said. “They actually had generated significantly more sales than the 47 lots that were actually sold. But then they had to make commitments to finish off certain servicing that they were unable to do. They essentially ran out of cash during the downturn.
“And on top of that, (there was) the whole GST/HST/PST issue that went full circle, and came back to something that makes a lot more sense now. That experience happened at the same time. It was like the development got hit with two negative blows at the same time.”
Virani said the economy is a lot stronger — the Alberta economy especially so — and there are a lot of Albertans interested in moving to Cranbrook and looking at that type of development. “We feel that the fundamentals are back in place to take this development to the next stage.”
The City of Cranbrook extended its boundaries in 2007 to include the Shadow Mountain property. Westpoint Capital has been working closely with the City of Cranbrook to move things forward, Virani said.
“Before we even purchased the development, we went and sat down with city council. We told them of our intentions, we asked them what their concerns were, we asked them what the issues were with the development, we asked them if we went forward with it how would they see this happening and would they be cooperative with us.”
Virani added that the city’s chief admininstrative officer, Wayne Staudt, was very helpful and welcoming.
“He was concerned, obviously, that he wants the development to move forward in responsible hands. And once he understood that we have the capital and financial backing to do what we say we’re going to do, he was very pleased to work with us.
“The city’s engineering department has been working with our people in terms of troubleshooting all the issues — there are some legacy issues with the development — and we have plans in place, cooperatively with the city, that will attack each one of those problems and solve them.”
Whereas the residential development has undergone a name change, the golf course remains Shadow Mountain Golf Course, which is owned and operated by Denille Industries Ltd, of the Auburn Group.
“One of the things the old owners did right was they put in a world-class golf course there,” Virani said. “It is breathtaking — some of the views from the golf course and the elevated tee boxes are phenomenal. The owner of Denille Industries purchased the golf course in part because he had golfed there and fell in love with the course.
“So we have been working cooperatively with them since they purchased the course, and things look really strong from a relationship point of view. We view it as a win-win partnership. We’re working very well together.”
As well as the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 30, an open house and family fun day is scheduled for Saturday, May 31, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The public is invited to come out and meet the River’s Crossing team, enjoy a barbecue, and have a chance to win a free golf and dinner draw. There will be activities for people of all ages.
River’s Crossing and the Shadow Mountain Golf Course are 10 kilometres north of Cranbrook down Highway 95A, just before the McPhee Bridge.