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Retail rush

Opportunities The city's population grew by 5.7 per cent in 2010 to 24,646, and its annual growth rate over the past 10 years has been around 5 per cent.


The city's population grew by 5.7 per cent in 2010 to 24,646, and its annual growth rate over the past 10 years has been around 5 per cent.

What does Spruce Grove have to offer to investors and new residents alike?

A variety of opportunities.

For investors, there's the growing trade catchment area. As an expanding urban centre on the west side of Edmonton, Spruce Grove is in a great location to grab retail dollars from folks west and northwest of Edmonton. Spruce Grove straddles the two branches of Highway 16 - Alberta's northern Trans-Canada route - and those two branches carry thousands of vehicles per day.

Shoppers north and west of the capital don't need to deal with Edmonton's traffic hassles to enjoy more consumer choice. As well, Edmonton's northwest ring road project (Anthony Henday Drive) is nearing completion, and soon Spruce Grove destinations will be more easily accessed from the north side of Edmonton as well as St. Albert.

Spruce Grove officials now peg the community's primary trading area at 70,000, but view its secondary trading area population at 245,000.

It's no wonder it now offers 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, even without Century Crossing and Westwind Centre.

Century Crossing

Century Crossing, a project from Camgill Enterprises Ltd., is much further along, with the 40-acre development welcoming new commercial tenants this summer in a section of the project that includes a large new Shoppers Drug Mart location. Save On Foods will open in 2012, and more big names such as Winners and SportChek will follow farther east. The early focus of Century Crossing, situated on the eastern edge of the city along the north side of Highway 16A, is retail, but plans for the development include everything from a cluster of office buildings to multi-family residential development.

Right now, says Walker, Century Crossing is responsible for roughly 75 per cent of the value of new commercial building permits in Spruce Grove.

Three kilometers to the north, the other major commercial growth pocket in Spruce Grove is also taking shape where Century Road intersects with Highway 16, the higher-speed route.

WestWind Centre, from WAM Development Group, is scheduled for about 30 acres of commercial development, and roughly 130 acres of future residential and mixed-use growth.

It will up the city's visual exposure on Highway 16, known as the Yellowhead Highway, on its north flank.

"It's an important development for Spruce Grove, because it's sort of going to be our window on the Yellowhead Highway," noted Walker.

"It's going to be the only full-service commercial development on the highway from 149th Street in Edmonton all the way out to Edson."

City council still needs to approve an area structure plan for WestWind Centre, with an approval possible this fall, and construction likely in 2012 for the commercial component.


While Spruce Grove is certainly expanding as a retail service centre, it's a lot more than that in terms of business. The city boasts six industrial parks employing over 2,000 people. They work in growth industries such as transportation and logistics, warehousing, oilfield service and food processing.

"I think there's a bit of perception that Spruce Grove is essentially a bedroom community. It's actually a lot more than that. It's actually got a relatively well-diversified economic base. There's a very strong commercial presence. It's a regional service centre," explained Walker, noting local industrial parks are home to 200 companies.

Which is why developers have historically been willing to put up new buildings on spec in the community 15 minutes west of Edmonton.

While that changed somewhat during the slowdown in 2008 and 2009, said Truda Lachman of Greystone Property Management Corp., companies such as Camgill kept building at Century Crossing.

"Camgill is one of the few that never slowed down," Lachman said, noting it managed to find tenants even as new structures were going up. Still, the local market isn't full of spec building just yet.

"Most builders right now would like to have a tenant or a couple of tenants in hand before they start moving dirt," Lachman explained.

Low land costs

Other things play favourably for Spruce Grove and its investors: land costs among them.

An acre of serviced industrial land in Spruce Grove currently runs at around $325,000 to $350,000. That's considerably less expensive than $450,000-per-acre in industrial parks south of Edmonton, and a bargain next to the $800,000 for an acre in southeast Edmonton's heavy industry belt, noted Walker.

With pending transportation system improvements (the northwest section of the Anthony Henday ring road nearing completion and the northeast section to be finished in 2016), there's never been a better time to locate to Spruce Grove.

Transportation and logistics is seen as the city's number one growth industry, but tourism plays a role. The latter sector will get a boost - likely later this year - when the city is expected to announce a deal to sell land beside its TransAlta Tri-Leisure Centre to a hotel developer for a 100-plus-room hotel and conference centre, Walker said.

from Western Investor August 2011