Genesis Land Development Corp. plans to build a massive mixed-use site in Rocky View County, just north of Calgary’s city limits, which would include retail space, hotels, seniors housing and a campus-style office area.
The Omni project is still in its infancy. Having just received approval from Alberta’s Municipal Government Board to develop the lands, Genesis is finalizing the plan outlining what it proposes to build on the 185-acre site.
Arnie Stefaniuk, the vice-president of land development with Genesis, said the master-planned site is envisioned to be comprised of retail, commercial and leisure concepts and elements to be constructed during the next decade or so.
“We’re continuing working along getting our conceptual scheme done, which is like an outline plan. It’s Rocky View’s version of an outline plan and (to) get that submitted to the county as quickly as possible,” said Stefaniuk, who was reluctant to offer too much detail at this point. “We’re way too early in the process so anything I’d say right now is speculative, so I’m not going to say anything.
“That sector of the region is severely underserved by retail. So we see a wonderful opportunity to provide retail services there.”
Omni development “not a mega-mall”
He said there is a misnomer some media have been using to portray the development.
“This thing is not a mega-mall,” he explained. “It does have retail components in it. It’s also got commercial components in it and it’s got a senior living area in it also. It’s a destination centre that will offer up many types of services.”
Stefaniuk said the market is constantly changing and how Genesis sees it today will likely be very different in two to five years. The company has owned the land for more than 10 years.
On its website, Genesis lists the vision of what The Omni could eventually include:
* 600,000 square feet of showcase retail;
* A 325,000-square-foot outlet centre;
* 60,000 square feet of restaurants and cafes;
* Three business/boutique hotels;
* A 27,000-square-foot children’s creativity zone;
* 250 seniors active living units;
* 500,000 square feet of office campus space;
* 4,000 parking stalls.
Rocky View County “developer-friendly”
The Omni will be located at Stoney Trail and Airport Trail (96th Avenue N.E.) on the east side of Stoney Trail. An interchange goes directly to The Omni land.
“The location is phenomenal,” said Stefaniuk, adding the project will likely be about a 10-year project.
Minutes away are the New Horizon Mall and the CrossIron Mills shopping centre in Balzac. Also nearby are large distribution centres and warehouses and the Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.
“The Calgary-to-Airdrie corridor is experiencing a robust commercial development phase driven by demand for commercial space and a developer-friendly environment in Rocky View County,” said Michael Kehoe, broker/owner of Fairfield Commercial Real Estate in Calgary.
“From the upper northeast sector of Calgary northward through Balzac up to the City of Airdrie, new industrial and retail development in the planning stages or under construction — mostly in Rocky View County — is proceeding at an impressive rate.
“One of the centrepieces of this momentum will be The Omni project,” he said. “This project is sure to capture the attention of expansion-minded retailers and other commercial tenants and business owners.”
Genesis said The Omni will be a master-planned commercial destination and hub for Calgary’s thriving upper-northeast quadrant. It has unparalleled frontage for national and boutique retailers.
Genesis, Rockey View win board decision
The Omni project was part of a dispute recently between the City of Calgary and Rocky View County, which the city took to the Municipal Government Board. The city said the proposed commercial and industrial development under the county’s approved Omni Area Structure Plan would have detrimental effects to the city, including transportation and emergency response issues.
“The MGB finds the 185 acres Genesis has designated as the Omni Project lands will not be detrimental to Calgary,” the board stated in a recent ruling. “Considering the approval of the Omni ASP and the advanced state of Genesis’ planning for the Omni Project, further delays would unnecessarily affect the landowner’s interest in proceeding with its development of the 185-acre site.”
However, it also ruled the balance of the Omni ASP (beyond the Omni Project) does introduce a significant level of planning uncertainty and might have a detrimental impact on the transportation network from Calgary’s perspective.
“The MGB sees the remedy of allowing the Omni Project to proceed while placing the balance of the ASP lands into special study area represents an appropriate balance of public and private interests . . .” the judgment says.
Stefaniuk said Genesis also owns an additional 425 acres which is part of the Omni ASP.
“We’re concentrating on the 185 acres first,” he said when asked what the company intends for that land.