While many Calgary urbanists (myself included) sing the praises of the new master planned inner city developments (East Village, Currie or University District) and the densification and redevelopment of Beltline, Bridgeland, Kensington or Marda Loop, Westman Village in the suburb of Mahogany is not on our song sheet.
I have followed the development of Westman Village for years and visited the site a few years ago when it was in its infancy, making a note to return when there was more to see. Recently, I made the 25 km road trip from my Calgary home to wander the village and tour some of the amenities and condos.
It was an eyeopener!
Westman Village 101
Westman Village is the brainchild of Jay Westman, who formed Jayman Homes (now called Jayman BUILT) together with his father Alvin in 1980. It is designed as a legacy to his father and the Westman family who, over the past 35+ years have become one of Calgary’s leading homebuilders. It is a unique development in North American - resort style living within the boundaries of a major city.
By resort style, I mean you have access to a man-made lake almost outside your door. You also have access to a private 40,000 square foot recreation centre (aka community centre) with everything from a small library to a large demonstration kitchen, from a huge swimming pool complex to a mega wine cellar/tasting room. There is also a 50-seat theatre space, as well as a room with pool tables and another with a golf simulator. It includes an arts and craft studio and a woodworking shop too. And yes, it has all the fitness equipment you will ever need.
It is like living in a hotel – there is even a concierge to help you with whatever you need.
Just like those trendy new inner city urban villages, Westman Village has no single family homes, rather a cluster of low rise multi-family buildings around the recreation complex and its one-block main street.
The main street is lined with shops and eateries like Analog Café and Diner Deluxe, as well as dental, medical and other services, all with residential above. It is a 10-minute walk to a major grocery store and other shops.
There is mix of housing types - from owner occupied to rental (you can even get a 10-year lease, which is great for empty nesters trying to manage their retirement finances). There are small 600 square foot units, as well as larger 1,600+ square foot penthouse units over-looking the lake. It even includes The Journey Club a seniors’ complex designed to offer everything from independent living and private assisted living, to memory care housing, allowing residents to age in place.
The homes we toured were well designed, very modern and functional, including being wheelchair accessible. While most of the people we saw were 55+, I was told buyers range from 18 to 94 years of age.
Westman Village is not for everyone (heck, it’s not for me), but it is very attractive to many Calgarians. While touring the site, one woman voluntarily just said “I love living here!” and as we walked around, we constantly felt the sense of comradery and community.
While other projects in the city are struggling, Westman Village is thriving. The retail spaces are 85% occupied and will be 100% by the end of the summer. The homes are selling out almost as fast as they can build them. All 860 homes will be completed by 2021 and are projected to be fully occupied by 2022.
A plaque on the façade of the Recreation Centre, with an image of Alvin Westman, says “the design and built form of our homes has been inspired by the belief that our journey through life changes every five years. We have set out to bring this inspiration to life. Westman Village is the culmination of everything experienced and learned – all in one place.”
Having toured the village for two hours, I truly believe that!
An edited version of this blog was published in the Caglary Herald’s New Condo section on Saturday, July 27, 2019.
FYI: Some readers have recently asked me if my New Condo column is just propaganda for developers. To you, as with them, I reply all of the content in my columns are written without any influence by any developer or the Calgary Herald. It is my opinion based on my research and knowledge.
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