BY JEANNIE ARMSTRONG, THE STARPHOENIX MAY 29, 2014 - Wally Mah, CEO and president of North Ridge Development Corporation, estimates that over 2,000 of the 9,0000-plus people who live in Martensville, reside in properties brought to market by his company.
North Ridge began purchasing land for development in Martensville 19 years ago. "The housing market in Saskatoon was quite stagnant at the time. We were trying to find some different alternatives for affordability. That's why we first went out to Martensville," says Mah. North Ridge is now active in 14 different municipalities across the province.
"I remember the City of Saskatoon manager telling me at the time, 'Not everyone will want to move to Martensville.' I responded, "I don't need everybody. I just need somebody."
Since that time, North Ridge has created housing opportunities to the south and north of Venture Heights School in Martensville. "We also purchased an additional 100 acres from the City of Martensville and developed The Meadows. We're down to just a handful of lots there," says Mah.
One of the company's largest endeavours is now underway in Martensville: Lake Vista. The 160-acre subdivision is bordered on the west by 10th Avenue North and on the south by Main Street, and will be built in six phases. "We've already invested $40 million in the first two phases," says Mah.
The new neighbourhood will feature a mix of housing types, including single family residences, walk-outs and multi-family projects. The heart of the neighbourhood will be Lake Vista, a scenic 10-acre manmade lake surrounded by prime residential lots. With a strong focus on green space design, Lake Vista will incorporate an open space system with attractive linear parks, ponds and pathways.
"Just across the way is a major sports complex, including the aquatic centre and ball diamonds," says Mah.
An estimated 1,300 households will be established in Lake Vista when the subdivision is fully built out. The neighbourhood will also feature 14 acres of commercial property fronting Main Street that will be developed in 2015-2016.
Mah says that the lower cost of land makes home ownership an affordable option in Martensville. The community's close proximity to Saskatoon means big city conveniences are just minutes away.
In recent years however, Martensville residents are finding they don't need to leave their community to shop, dine or have fun. "Martensville has become its own community," says Mah, citing the establishment of numerous businesses in the new commercial zone extending along the highway. "Martensville has reached a critical point in its evolution, and will continue to grow," he adds.
"Other developers like North Prairie have become involved and they've done a great job. You need the synergies of people that have the capacity and the desire to want to do it. I would say that John Williams from North Prairie Developments has been one of those individuals."
North Ridge Development manages another 200 acres of land surrounding Martensville, designated for future development as the community continues to grow. "We've always had the vision of continued growth in Martensville and that's what we've done," says Mah.