By Josh Skapin, Calgary Herald
There's saying you're confident and then there's proving it.
A developer bringing a condo project to Mount Royal falls under both categories with its Uno project.
While many companies look to sell a certain percentage of units before breaking ground, Maple Projects Inc. is starting construction on the 47-unit building without putting a pen to contract on a single suite.
Going forward without buyers marks a first for the Vancouver, B.C., firm.
"Unlike other developers, we are so confident with the development, we did not want to wait for a pre-sales test," says Ajay Nehru, president of Maple Projects.
That confidence comes from an assortment of factors, including lower Mount Royal, itself, he says.
In fact, it inspired the name of the development.
Nehru says lower Mount Royal is the number-one area in Calgary. Uno in Italian translates to "one".
"We think the location is fabulous within lower Mount Royal," says Nehru, adding that Uno counts as one of the first new residential developments in the area for several years.
Its proximity to downtown while being on the fringe of a quiet, residential area increases its appeal, he says.
"It also offers unique value to someone seeking a balanced lifestyle. You have access to the best of all choices in lower Mount Royal and it's all within walking distance."
With the location comes a four-storey building that Nehru says is based on a vision of what the market in lower Mount Royal wants, including a sense of community.
"This is for people who are looking for something different than buildings where you don't know your neighbours," he says.
The building is a wood-frame structure with two levels of underground parking. However, the building does not include amenity areas, such as an exercise facility, which Nehru says was a conscious decision.
"That ultimately would increase condo fees and decrease the size of units," he says.
Instead, Nehru says the focus was on crafting livable units with size. There are 30 two-bedroom units, along with 14 one-bedroom floor plans, and three one-bedroom-plus-den units.
The level of attention to detail within each unit was a long-term process, says Nehru.
"I have changed the layouts of these units so many times," he says, having worked with architectural teams in Calgary and Vancouver on Uno's design.
"Everyone who came into my office for a period of weeks, the first thing I asked them was: How can we make this better? What would you do?"
The apartments feature open-concept floor plans with nine-foot ceilings, along with vaulted ceilings in units on the top floor.
Units focus on quality bathrooms and kitchens. The kitchens have upgraded appliances and include wine fridges.
Units also come with balconies that range from 47 to 183 feet. Flooring selections include textured carpets in bedrooms, large tiles on bathroom and laundry floors and five-inch-wide engineered hardwood floors.
In terms of fire prevention, the building is outfitted with a sprinkler system and each unit is hardwired with heat and smoke detectors.
Nehru says he expects the owners at Uno to be mainly young professionals that like the idea of walking to work and the building's close proximity to trendy 17th Avenue.
Urban and university-educated singles, along with middle-class or upscale couples, are other possible groups of buyers, he says.
"The cliche of having a Mount Royal address will also be a powerful driver," says Nehru.
The Uno sales centre is slated to open at the site by the end of March. Units will go on sale by mid-April and will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Construction on the building is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
Site superintendent Bob Calvin and Stacie Mori of the sales team hold plans for the new Uno project in lower Mount Royal on the site of the development