Q&A with Dave Haut from Boudreau Communities | St. Albert
With an impressive portfolio positioned to meet and accelerate development based on market demand, St. Albert’s Boudreau Communities is committed to the vision of a city where it is possible to live a better quality of life. This vision calls for creativity, imagination, and expertise. It means breaking new ground, being open to change, and creating a more sustainable and inclusive urban environment. Focusing on master planned communities, Boudreau’s inspirational vision helps residents discover new ways to experience life. CEO Dave Haut joins us to discuss their core values, upcoming projects, and their commitment to the Live-Work-Play lifestyle.
Q. THE CONCEPT OF CREATING LIVE-WORK-PLAY COMMUNITIES IS NOT NEW. FOR ANYONE STILL NOT SOLD ON THE CONCEPT, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MIXED-USED COMMUNITIES?
It really is about living a better quality of life. There’s such a vibrancy to mixed-use communities when you can blend residential, business, and retail in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Europe has done a great job with their usage of mixed-use communities, and we wanted to bring that same vibrancy and excitement here to Edmonton. We want people to have pride in where they live.
As a developer, I truly believe that master-planned communities are more stable, and they weather the real estate cycle better than traditional single or multi-family homes. Many buyers are looking for walkable, urban neighbourhoods with a mix of uses and open space. Millennials gravitate towards urban areas where they can have that live-work-play all in one place.
With mixed-use buildings promoting walkability, they essentially reduce the risk of, and need for, automobiles to drive to work, the store, and to entertainment options. As a result, mixed-use buildings promote positive environmental impacts by reducing the carbon footprints in cities. They also benefit the local economy. Businesses are drawn to live-work-play locations because they become hubs of activity.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR CORE VALUES THAT SET THE STANDARD AND SHAPE THE CULTURE AT BOUDREAU COMMUNITIES?
Our better way to live philosophy is to create communities where each live is lived to the fullest, and our core values reflect that and build on each other. We’re committed to our clients, partners, locations, and how we build. A key core value we have is take 100% responsibility for what we do. Good or bad. The ability to accept personal responsibility is one of the most important skills a team can have. Since we are the owners on our projects, we want to make sure we’re building to the quality standards that our clients and community expect.
From there you build on that foundation, and it leads to another core value of establishing trust. Trust serves as a foundational component of a healthy and well work environment. I’ve always been a big team guy, and I think we have a great place to work. We all come from different backgrounds and have different abilities, and we engage and trust one each other that builds better productivity and engagement. Our business partnerships are built on trust and mutual value as well. We’re onsite always collaborating with our building partners. A lot of developers have a lock-it-and-leave it attitude. We don’t.
Q. TRUST IS ALSO ESTABLISHED WITH YOUR CLIENTS. A BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CAN TURN CLIENTS INTO BRAND ADVOCATES. HOW ARE YOU OPTIMIZING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
The first we do is listen to our clients. Communication is key to building strong relationships so we make it clear that we will work with our clients to develop value statements that align with their lifestyle.
As an example, home buyers today want to maximize every square inch of their living space. Since we were the first developer to build a live-work-play community in St. Albert with our Botanica development, we listened to what our clients wanted. Originally, we designed the standard 1000 sq. ft. units. Turns out more and more buyers were reserving and requesting larger units.
We pivoted our approach and changed the layout of the suites to be 1500-1800 sq ft, with large 500-2000 sq. ft. balconies with their own natural gas and hose bibs so clients can enjoy the views and entertain family and friends. When you listen to your clients, it helps you understand your product better.
Another goal we take seriously is to be available for our clients. We keep clients informed of progress, answer any questions in a timely manner and are clear and transparent about what they can expect in the final product. A great thing that separates us from other developers is that we have 6-8 different finish packages that our clients can choose from. If the client wants to make customizations by mixing packages like upgrading their flooring design options or lighting systems, adding a different backsplash, or add a sink in the laundry room, we accommodate as much as we can.
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Q. WHAT IS YOUR ARCHITECTURAL APPROACH WHEN DESIGNING A NEW COMMUNITY?
Architects these days tend to lean towards the more modern, but we’re quite traditional in our designs and overall architectural approach. Modern buildings usually use a lot of glass and steel, while traditional architecture relies on the use of materials like brick, stone, and wood. It’s an arm-wrestling match to find a happy medium, but ultimately, we want to design and build homes we would want to live in. At the end of the day, it’s the structure of the building that counts the most. This creates a sense of community and connection to the past, which helps the area maintains its traditional look and feel for the residents of the community.
Q. WHAT KIND OF SUSTAINABLE, ECO-FRIENDLY, OR SOUND CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES ARE YOU UTILIZING INTO YOUR PROJECTS?
We typically like to go with steel and concrete, that gives us a better thermal performance to begin with. It makes it possible to design durable buildings by taking advantage of its thermal mass by keeping it inside the building envelope which helps regulate interior temperatures. We implement practical upgrades like LED lighting that use up to 90% less power, high-efficient plumbing fixtures that save water and conserve energy, and heat and energy recovery ventilators that ensure there is minimal heat loss when ventilating a room. I think the biggest savings to the environment is building quality through sustainable design and construction. Doing so will that withstand the test of time, matching people’s lifestyles today and 50 years from now.
Q. WHAT ROLE DOES COLLABORATION PLAY IN YOUR BUILDING PROCESS?
Communication is key. The success of our projects depends on collaboration from our partners. We collaborate through our design process with our architects, interior designers, consultants, engineers, and conduct a thorough design-build process with them. We know the systems we’re looking for, and how they perform. Once we get onsite, we work with a great team of general contractors, trades and suppliers that deliver exceptional quality. We have our own team member on every site to keep an eye on the standards we expect. Everyone involved must have a clear picture ahead of them from conceptualization to the finishing stages of the project.
Q. SEVERAL OF YOUR PROJECTS ARE IN ST. ALBERT. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE CITY THAT MAKES IT A DESIRABLE PLACE TO LIVE?
St. Albert has the Red Willow Trail, which is over 85 kilometres of walking trail systems through the downtown core that wanders along the Sturgeon River that offers an abundant of outdoor opportunities all year round. They have the renowned St. Albert farmers’ market that is the largest outdoor market in western Canada and provides a unique shopping experience where you can find local produce, products, and crafts. It has a bustling, yet quaint downtown core that combines rural and urban living which is why St. Albert is always ranked one of the best places to live.
Riverbank Landing expands on the developments of Botanica and the Shops at Boudreau, and is composed of residences, a senior’s complex, micro-loft suites, new restaurants, and boutique retail and professional spaces all situated on the banks of the Sturgeon River. Buyers today, especially generations to come, are big on convenience, and when you create a community like this, it really does give you the aspect of convenience at your doorstep.
With Riverbank Landing, it goes back to the lifestyle. We’re selling that lifestyle, and the level of service that you’re getting, as well as the amenities and the convenience of the area, it kind of speaks for itself. When the client signs up and they see the boutique shops, and the Village Square with outdoor fireplaces, lush landscaping, playgrounds, pocket parks and entertainment options, they think this is great. They always move in with 2 or 3 cars. Once they move in, they realize they don’t need that second or third car. Their friends have moved in, and they form a community.
47 precent of the land at Riverbank Landing is public space, it’s not a building footprint. It incorporates the town squares, the plazas, a natural area for kids to play in. It’s going to be inviting and vibrant. We’ve invested in a lot of land, and we’re excited by the opportunity to plan, develop, and create live-work-play communities that will exceed the needs of today’s modern family.
ESPRIT LIVING in Beaumont is the exact same model as Riverbank Landing, just on a smaller scale. ESPRIT’s quality construction of steel and concrete ensures enhanced safety, soundproofing and dedicated fresh air intake in every suite. Beaumont is much like St. Albert, a fast-growing community that prides itself on being a family oriented and energetic community. The downtown core resembles a French village with unique architecture and red brick walkways, so we wanted to incorporate elements of French architecture into it. It has modern design features, such as expansive window walls, oversized ceiling heights, and buyers will benefit from our onsite fitness centre and a yoga and meditation studio. It will feature 20,000 sq ft of main floor commercial space for businesses and we already have several local grocers and restaurants looking at the space. ESPRIT is within walking distance of downtown Beaumont and is only a 20-minute dive to Edmonton.
We only want to build where we can deliver live, work, play communities, and our upcoming 459 Osprey development in South Kelowna, British Columbia is another project we are excited to bring the community. It’s a great location that’s situated in South Pandosy and gives buyers lake views and walking distance to Okanagan Lake, and a trendy Pandosy Village neighbourhood. It has the feel of a small beach town, and has sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops.
Osprey will offer the best in luxury living. This includes two-bedroom townhomes with private patios, trendy one and two-bedroom suites facing Pandosy Street, and high-end condos with large outdoor living spaces with superb views of the lake. Condos units are expansive at 1200-1500 sq. ft., and are available in one bedroom, two bedroom, and two bedrooms with den options.