Welcome development for overlooked zone

Aspen Meadows, a high-end gated condo development in northwest Winnipeg, has broken ground, marking what some believe is only the beginning of a trend for the area.

"The area has been overlooked by developers for three decades for some reason, leading to a pent-up demand which won't be satiated by Aspen Meadows' completion," says Giselle MacDonald, president of Chartier Property Management, the company heading the three-phase, $33-million project. "It is merely the first high-end, gated condominium complex in northwest Winnipeg."

Spadework for the $11-million first phase of Aspen Meadows on the north Winnipeg corner of Pipeline Road and Leila Avenue began Nov. 21. The phase contains 58 condo units, ranging from 948 to 1,428 sq. ft. and priced from $160,000 to $250,000.

So far, the development is attracting a niche market.

Illustration courtesy of Nejmark Architect
Aspen Meadows condo apartments have begun construction in an overlooked part of Winnipeg.

"Many ethnic communities in the Maples area are growing," says Sukh Darshan Kaila, one of the developers who was also the landowner of the 5.3 acres on which Aspen Meadows is being built. "About eight East Indians as well as some Chinese and Filipinos are among those who've pre-booked units."

Kaila, along with partner Jaspal Sandhu, is no stranger to real estate. The pair previously owned and sold the McLaren Hotel, and own the St. Regis Hotel downtown and other Winnipeg properties. For this project, they teamed with Abe Anhang, Joe Bova and Giselle MacDonald to form ASK Enterprises, which commissioned Chartier Property Management.

Sales for Aspen Meadows, which are being handled by Newman Greenberg & Associates, have been brisk.

"Fifty per cent of the first phase's units have been sold just by putting a sign up with a display suite," says MacDonald.

But the strong response from the community hasn't surprised her. "When the three phases are complete, the complex will house over 180 units," MacDonald explains.

"This represents a significant increase of consumers to the area, which is a positive development for business owners. The future residents will have the convenience of being located in close proximity to all amenities."

Those amenities include the Wellness Centre for rehabilitation, the Garden City Shopping Centre and the North Perimeter Highway.

According to MacDonald, Aspen Meadows is a much-needed development for the large population of people who live in north Winnipeg and are committed to staying in the area, but have had no options to satisfy their growing desire for condo life. "People want the carefree condo lifestyle, in which they lock up and go out," she says.

Maples MLA Cris Aglugub, now living in a condo after selling his house in the Fort Rouge area, agrees with MacDonald.

"Tired of mowing lawns, an aging but mobile Baby Boomer population is selling its homes to buy condos, which are more convenient from the maintenance viewpoint," he says.

Aglugub also expects the Aspen Meadows development may trigger the springing up of more retail stores on Leila Avenue and McPhillips Street. "Given the paucity of people in the Maples, it is good that we'll have a range of housing options here."

Of course, not everyone will sell their home to move into a condo. Maria Oliver, a health-care aide who volunteers at the Maples Tenants' Association, won't be signing up for an Aspen Meadows unit.

"You can do what you like with a house if you own it, because it's not a collective," she says. "But I suppose this development will be good for the Maples; if there are more people living here, there may be more retailers, especially food stores. In that sense, any development is good, and many people prefer condos."

Residents at the nearby Amber Meadows retirement homes have mixed feelings about the new construction. William Bolton is concerned about being "hemmed in," but Ruth Garber says she hopes Aspen Meadows will bring a new strip mall with it - hopefully one with hairdressers and grocery stores.

(Ashoke Dasgupta can be reached at dasgupta@businessedge.ca)