I recently had a chance to tour Knightsbridge Homes’ and Metropia’s controversial new N3 condo in East Village, which has absolutely no parking for residents or visitors. While some saw the lack of parking as a huge risk in a city where most citizens can’t live without a car, Joe Starkman, President Knightsbridge Homes and his team did their research and realized while the market in Calgary for a condo with no parking was small, all he needed was 167 people in a city of over one million to sign up.
Turns out he was correct. The 460 to 620 square foot condos were quickly snapped up. Today, the building is fully occupied with residents who love living East Village where almost everything is - or soon will be - within walking distance or a quick transit ride away.
While the homes are small, I and the two other housing professionals I was with were very impressed with their efficient designed. While one might think N3’s market would be a haven for millennials, many were empty nesters.
What I found really interesting too was that every buyer was given a $500 IKEA gift card to help outfit their condo, a Lifetime Car2Go Membership, $500 in Car2Go mileage credits and a $500 gift card to Bow Cycle. Obviously, N3 was destined to become a haven for walkers and cyclists, who only needed a car occasionally. I also learned a special weekend IKEA bus (hourly service starting at 11 am) was established not only for N3 but all East Village residents and the City Center at the N3 condo show suite – it still operates today.
Top To Bottom Appeal
Calgary’s GEC architects designed a handsome building, which includes a spectacular roof top patio, complete with kitchen facilities and workout space. The patio has million dollar views of the downtown skyline, as well as great views of the new Central Library, the river and mountains. The rooftop patio was very well used this summer, becoming a communal living room for all residents. It is a view that will never disappear, as all of the surrounding buildings will never get any taller.
Its basement is probably the best bike storage in Calgary. It comes complete with a bike repair and washing area. There is direct access to the mews between N3 and St. Louis hotel with a bike friendly ramp and of course state-of-the-art secure storage racks. The bike room is bright and airy, not a dark and dingy basement.
Like all good City Centre condo developments, N3 includes commercial uses at ground level. Tim Hortons has recently opened along the 4th Street SE street frontage while The Brewer’s Apprentice has opened in the mid-block mews that separates N3 from the historic St. Louis Hotel. Apprentice is a unique, high-tech concept that offers 48 different craft beers from Alberta and beyond. They offer tastings and in addition to buying beer in cans and bottles, you can get freshly poured growlers and tallboys.
Kudos to the GEC architectural team who chose to make the entrance to N3 from the mews and not from 8th Ave SE or 4th St SE, thereby allowing for better commercial space at street level and a funky, European-like space in the mews.
While N3 offered the lowest cost new condo prices in East Village and probably in all of the City Centre, it is by no means a low cost building. The amenities rival those of luxury condos. I chatted with several residents during my tour and everyone was very happy with their purchase.
N3 has been so successfully Starkman and his team are going to “do it again.” Well, not exactly. They are currently developing plans for the 14-storey Velo, which will have a mix of housing types including mico-suites (under 250 sq. ft.), seniors’ housing and housing for the ably-disabled all in one tower. And yes it will have some parking but not the typical amount.
As for the significance of the name N3, officially it stands for New attitude, New vision and New lifestyle, my interpretation is No parking, No cars, No worries!
Note: An edited version of this blog was published in the Calgary Herald's New Condo section, Dec 23, 2017.