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Three's the charm for community of the year

Mahogany won the 2014 Grand SAM Award for Community of the Year — City of Calgary, on April 18, 2015.

Mahogany won the 2014 Grand SAM Award for Community of the Year — City of Calgary, on April 18, 2015.

File / Calgary Herald

Two major community awards are staying put after Mahogany and Watermark at Bearspaw extended winning streaks at a Calgary region housing competition this year.

For the third year in a row, Mahogany earned the Community of the Year — City of Calgary crown. Watermark is on the same run of wins in the category for Community of the Year — Calgary Region.


The Canadian Home Builders’ Association Calgary Region SAM (Sales and Marketing) Awards were announced during a gala event at the Telus Convention Centre recently. Other developer awards went to the Willows of River Heights for New Community of the Year and Qualico’s Dressage in Silverado for Show Home Parade of the Year.


Mahogany is a lake community in southeast Calgary master-planned by Hopewell. The community was also recognized on a country-wide stage earlier this year, picking up the top community development title at the National SAMs.


“The land for Mahogany was purchased over 10 years ago, and we took a tremendous amount of time in its planning and predicting its future in how it would be relevant to Calgarians,” says Hopewell’s president Paul Taylor. “I suppose to some degree this award is a reflection of the fact that the time we invested to get the planning right and forecast the future as we have has come to fruition in the form of this award and many other ways.”


A driving appeal at Mahogany is the community’s three-part lake. At 25 hectares, it’s the largest freshwater lake within city limits.


“With the immigration that Alberta sees year-after-year where we have Canadians and people from other parts of the world coming here that are used to being around water, it’s just that much more important,” Taylor adds. “We’re certainly somewhat starved for water in this part of the world in terms of recreational use — that seems to satisfy a lot of people’s needs.”


Beyond the trophies, Taylor says the biggest affirmation of Mahogany’s success has been the number of house hunters who have made the decision to buy there. This includes over the first quarter of 2015, where Mahogany has led all Calgary communities in building permit applications for single-family homes.


“Which we’re really excited about,” says Taylor of the demand in Mahogany early this year. “The market is soft today so competition and so forth is very brisk. We’re very proud of the fact that things are continuing to be relatively firm out there.”


Mahogany offers a wide selection of home options, including the estate segment, front-attached garage homes, rear-attached garage homes, laned homes, duplexes, street towns, townhomes and condos.


The runner-up for top community in the city was Brookfield Residential’s Riverstone of Cranston. Other communities in the running include Auburn Bay, also by Brookfield, along with Genstar’s Walden and Currie Barracks by Canada Lands Co.


Like Mahogany, Watermark’s trophy case also includes national honours. The luxury community west of city limits is a two-time winner of the National SAM for Community Development.


Watermark is now selling in its third phase of development where single-family homes start from $1.2 million.


“We were so shocked and incredibly honoured when we won the second time in a row so a third time in a row — we’re just gobsmacked,” says director of sales and marketing Ian Macdonald. “It’s just unbelievable.”


Macdonald says the win is shared with the community’s featured builders, Astoria Custom Homes, Albi Homes, Trickle Creek Custom Homes and Wolf Custom Homes. Each of these builders were nominated for a SAM award.


“We as a team have shaped and built this community,” says Macdonald.


In terms of what makes Watermark a standout community, one of the winning ingredients was the developer’s approach to amenities, says Macdonald.


“The amenities that we have put in are second-to-none and putting all those amenities in even more even before the first person moved in was a really big feature,” Macdonald says. “It’s the field of dreams approach. If you build it, they will come. People don’t just want to share in a vision through a rendering, they want to see things. Seeing is believing. And I think that’s what we did here in Watermark, and people followed.”


Finalists for the Calgary region community award include Artesia at Heritage Pointe by Heritage Pointe Properties, Ravenswood by Qualico, Canals Landing by Genesis Land Development and La Vita Land’s Fireside of Cochrane.


For the new community award, developer La Vita Land said the Willows won with it boutique plan for 450 homes and expansive park amenity.


“In the centre, there is a 1.6 acre (0.6 hectare) park that will be top-notch,” says La Vita general manager Justin Mauro. “It’ll have courts, open field area, play structure, pathways and it connects to a preserved wetland in the southwest corner of the community.”


The park is included in its third phase of development and is expected to start construction this year. Home options in the community include townhomes, duplexes and laned or front-attached garage single-family homes.


Location is another key factor with the Willows, adds Mauro.


“It’s on the south side of Cochrane and nestled in next to Bow Valley High School,” Mauro says. “You’re away from the highway but you’re a two-minute drive to Highway 22. Then you’re 20 minutes to the mountains or 20 minutes to Calgary.”


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