What is the purpose of the First Place Program? How did it get started?

The program was established in 2006 to develop and build up to 1,000 new town homes on 20 surplus school sites over the next 10 years. The program was established to help individuals and families who’ve never before owned property in Alberta buy their first home. Depending on the size of the surplus school site land, approximately 25 to 50 town homes will be constructed on each site.

Town homes will be registered as condominium units meaning the purchaser owns the interior space of their condominium townhouse as well as a portion of all public space in the development. Condominiums are generally managed by a property management company accountable to a condominium Board of Directors. The property management company is responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of the building structure, grounds, internal roadway, etc.

How does the program work?

First Place town homes are available for first time homeowners who meet the program’s eligibility criteria to purchase. Eligible purchasers pay for the cost of the unit, as well as relevant condominium fees, taxes and utility costs. Land costs are deferred for five years. After five years the owner must pay the City the total amount of the deferred land costs. The five year deferral on land costs provides assistance to owners in reducing costs and building equity.

Is there an application process?

There is no application process with the City. Once eligible purchasers have chosen the community and First Place project they would like to buy into, they must contact the builder who is building in that community. There are two approved developers: Rohit Communities and Landmark Group. Each has their own application process for purchasers to follow.

If you meet program eligibility requirements and qualify for a mortgage from a financial institution, please contact Landmark Group of Builders and Rohit Communities directly.

What do First Place townhomes cost?

All questions about costs, townhouse layouts, availability, etc., should be directed to the builder, either Landmark Group of Builders or Rohit Communities.

Is there a waiting list?

There is no waiting list maintained by the City. Each builder may maintain a list of individuals interested in specific sites. Those interested should make contact with the builders directly.

May I buy a lot and build my own town home with First Place program funding?

No. The First Place program provides assistance by deferring the cost of the land portion of approved First Place development sites until the sixth year. Townhomes can only be purchased from the builders. First Place does not provide any direct program funding.

Is the First Place Home Ownership Program and First Time Homeowner Program the same program?

Yes. The program was renamed in early 2011.

How many First Place sites have been built?

By 2009 two sites had been built and were fully sold in the communities of Canon Ridge and Greenview. In 2012, three more sites began their development and are underway in Caernarvon, Tawa and Casselman. More sites will be built over the next 10 years in response to market demand.

Is this a social housing program?

No. The program makes homeownership attainable for first time buyers by delaying or deferring the portion of the cost of the land for five years. In all other respects the town homes are sold at fair market value.

How many townhouse units can be built on First Place sites?

The zoning established for First Place sites allows for a range of 42 units/ha to a maximum of 54 units/ha, depending on the provision of underground parking. We expect that, depending on the size of the individual site, somewhere between 25 and 50 town homes may be constructed. The final number of units per site will be determined after consultations between the builder and the community.

In 2010 Council approved new strategic directions to align with new regional residential density targets exceeding those established 14 years ago. The density targets for the First Place program are consistent with City Council’s policy.

How can I become involved to help influence what is built?

Prior to development in any First Place community, residents will have the opportunity, through their community leagues, to participate with and provide feedback to new home builders on home design issues. This consultation is intended to ensure new homes “fit” into the existing communities. Indeed, part of the criteria used in selecting Landmark Group of Builders and Rohit Communities was the experience and expertise they have in public consultation.

What effect, if any, will development of the school building envelope site have on neighbourhood property values?

Properties situated across from a surplus school site have always been a site that was intended for development. Based on the research conducted after the first two sites were built in Canon Ridge and Greenview, changing the building type from a school to First Place homes has demonstrated a negligible impact on assessed values. In Canon Ridge and Greenview, property values remained very close to citywide averages after construction (based on neighbourhood values for 2009, 2010 and 2011).

I notice that some new homes have sold prior to the 5 year deferral period. Why are some people leaving before the five year period is up?

Our experience with the first two sites in Canon Ridge and Greenview has demonstrated that unforeseen circumstances arise that require some buyers to sell their homes before the five year deferral period on land costs has concluded. The City has worked with these individuals to accommodate these circumstances, where appropriate, allowing them to pay out the deferred land payment earlier than expected. Please visit the City of Edmonton website for more details.