For the unveiling of new master-planned communities, north Calgary captured the spotlight in 2016.

Livingston by Brookfield Residential and Carrington by Genstar Development Co. are new neighbours of Centre Street North, while northeast Calgary’s Savanna in Saddle Ridge, also by Genstar, launched just off Metis Trail.

Staying in the northeast, the busy quadrant also added 525-hectare community of Cornerstone by Walton Development and Management.

Cornerstone was officially introduced to the Calgary market, along with 28 show homes, in October. The launch drew around 1,000 people.

“It was overwhelming,” says Craig Dickie, president of Walton. “It was wonderful to see that sort of interest for what we were trying to do out there.”

The community’s builders are Morrison Homes, Shane Homes, Truman Homes, Jayman Built and Pacesetter by Sterling Homes.

“That interest has continued with relatively strong sales and permit activity, which has been really positive because it’s been consistent,” Dickie says. “It wasn’t just that one time for the grand opening day.”

On what’s driving that demand, Dickie says a number of elements factor in, including the opening of the airport terminal.

“That has been a massive driver in terms of economic development there,” Dickie says. “You see the industry and commercial side with a lot of new warehousing and retail going up out here, a number of new hotels. I think that’s creating a real employment base in the northeast that’s swaying people to look a bit closer to where they can work, live and play all in one area.”

Once the Cornerstone area is fully developed, it will contain around 38 hectares of park and school space, 14 kilometres of pathways and 72 hectares of natural wetlands. It will have a major activity centre that will boast a combination of residential, commercial and retail opportunities, including a future grocery store. The site is also projected to be the next stop on the northeast leg of the LRT.

A major activity centre will buoy Livingston and Carrington, as well. Both communities stepped into pre-construction sales with their respective builder groups earlier this year.

The lion’s share of the planned major activity centre, expected to contain a variety of businesses — including places to shop and eat — will sit on Livingston land, with the most southwesterly portion going to Carrington. This development is expected to create around 7,000 full-time jobs.

The area is also proposed to access the proposed Greenline LRT extension. When complete, it will link to Seton in southeast Calgary.

Shovels turned at Livingston in June. The community stretches 519 hectares, which is about a third of the size of Okotoks. It’s expected to be home to about 30,000 people.

“This is going to be the downtown of the north,” said Brookfield’s chief operating officer Trent Edwards, during an event celebrating the start of construction. “Brookfield has the downtown of the south with Seton, and up north — we are looking to do something very similar.”

The builder group in the first phase of development includes Cedarglen Homes, Jayman Built, Brookfield, Homes by Avi, Morrison Homes and Avi Urban.

Livingston will also pioneer a concept that’s intended to enhance fire safety in homes. Residential sprinklers will be mandatory for all homes in Livingston.

“It adds an extra layer of safety,” said Edwards. “We know we are going to have to come out of pocket on this, at least at the beginning, because it’s the right thing to do.

“This is our investment in safety.”

Livingston will commit 20 per cent of its land to open space and is planned to include 12 parks, six schools, and a 30,000-square-foot homeowners association facility.

Its first show home parade will open in 2017.

While a formal community launch is on the calendar for early next year, Carrington’s builders brought on pre-construction sales in late 2016.

“Traffic has been really good out there,” said Genstar development manager Kelly Schmalz during an interview in December. “A lot of groups coming through and showing quite a bit of demand in this area. We’re looking forward to building on that momentum.”

Its builder group includes Excel Homes, Homes by Avi, Jayman Built and Arcuri Homes. Excel currently has show homes open in the community.

The overall community of Carrington has three developers. Along with Genstar, Mattamy Homes has 159 hectares beside Evanston at the intersection of 14th Street and 144th Avenue N.W. A private land owner has 46 hectares of Carrington, as well.

Genstar’s Carrington is 36 hectares and bound by Centre Street and 144th Avenue N.W.

In the northeast, the developer’s Savanna community was in full swing with its first on-site sales presence and show homes in early 2016. Savanna’s builders are Excel Homes, Cardel Homes, Homes by Avi, and Arcuri Homes.

Eleven months into 2016, Saddle Ridge saw the second highest number of permit applications to build single-family homes in Calgary with 322, says the city’s planning and development department. Savanna is joined by Saddlestone by Genesis Land as the two new communities currently developing within the established northeast area.

Mahogany by Hopewell Residential was the only community with more permit applications during that time.

“Our success in Savanna exceeded our expectations in 2016,” says Paul Boskovich, vice-president for Genstar in Alberta. “The success of Savanna reflects Calgarians confidence in the housing market and that quality developments will continue to experience high levels of interest from new homebuyers.”

This past year also saw the unveiling of a new master-planned community in a small town just north of Airdrie. Dream Development, the company behind EvansRidge, opened Vista Crossing in Crossfield.

It launched with a parade featuring four show homes by Homes by Dream, two by McKee Homes and one from ReidBuilt Homes.

“The homes have a lot of charm,” said Michael Tandara about Vista Crossing, prior to the show home parade opening this past September. He’s the director of marketing, land and housing at Dream Unlimited.

The 64-hectare community, at build out, will have about 1,000 homes. It’s planned for two hectares of protected wetland, eight hectares of green space, and more than four kilometres of walking trails.

House hunters also saw three established communities bring on substantial extensions in 2016. Sage Meadows and Tuscany in northwest Calgary and West Grove Estates on the southwest side rolled out pre-construction sales on new plans last year.

The Ridge at Sage Meadows by Genesis Land came to market with 74 lots through its builders Morrison Homes and Calbridge Homes. “Every lot here borders on environmental reserve,” said Arnie Stefaniuk, vice-president of land development for Genesis during an interview in September. “This is unique in Calgary.”

Then there was Tesoro in Tuscany, a 128-lot enclave by Avi Land, part of Homes by Avi Group of Companies. Its builders are Albi Luxury by Brookfield Residential and Homes by Avi.

“When you stand on the land, the views to the west are amazing,” said Naum Shteinbah, vice-president of Homes by Avi Canada and Avi Land Corp., earlier in 2016 “A lot of people who moved into Tuscany earlier when it was just developing, they’ve outgrown their homes and are looking to move up and that’s a product that our builders will be providing.”

Looking to 11th Avenue S.W., Bri-Mor Developments raised the curtain on the Rise at West Grove Estates. The new 200-home development reaches 11.3 hectares, adding to the existing West Grove Estates community of 7.72 hectares. Albi Luxury by Brookfield Residential and Cedarglen Homes are building here.

There are a combined eight parks in the entire community, with five at the Rise and three in the existing end of West Grove Estates.

“Each park is designed to provide families with a place to engage with neighbours or escape to a relaxing retreat, moments from your doorstep,” said Aleem Dhanani, Bri-mor’s managing director, in November.

On the awards front, a southeast Calgary community by WestCreek Developments stood tall. Legacy was named Community of the Year-City of Calgary at the Calgary Region SAM (Sales and Marketing) Awards earlier this year.

In the land development segment, it was joined by Brookfield Residential’s Symons Gate for New Community of the Year and Tamani Communities’ Riversong in Cochrane for Community of the Year-Calgary Region. Mahogany by Hopewell Residential also picked up the award for Show Home Parade of the Year.

The award for Builder of the Year went to Broadview Homes. Other Grand SAM winners included Multi-Family Builder of the Year, to Avi Urban, McKinley Masters for Builder of Merit, Renova Luxury Renovations for Renovator of the Year and Wildwood Cabinets was named Partner of the Year.

“We know, having a house that’s been used many times and proven to be successful is a good money-maker,” said Broadview vice-president Peter-John Woolf after the win. “And we’ll never lose sight of what the public is buying. But we’ll constantly be taking chances.”

This article originally appeared on Calgary Herald.