Regency Developments was built from the ground up on the foundation of a dream and dedication to hard work. Their story is one of resilience and of unwavering commitment to complete each project to the highest standard possible. As Chief Operating Officer Raj Dhunna says, “We believe in the principles of honesty, integrity and respect with an understanding that we’re building a home for a family that wants to be an active part of the community. Being a family owned and operated business, we are committed to building and maintaining long term relationships with our community, city council, and key partners.”
From their humble beginning, Regency’s story unfolds with its Founder, Rakesh Dhunna, who immigrated to Canada from his native India as they settled in Edmonton. The city they call home was going through a population growth boom, an expanding economy, and an abundance of employment opportunities which attracted people to Edmonton and fueled population-based demand for housing. “My parents came to Canada in the early 80s with nothing more than a mid-level high school education where English was a foreign language, and they embarked on a new journey in search of a better life for family,” says Dhunna. “They arrived, got to work right away at blue collar jobs and continued doing that for the next decade. In the early 1990’s my dad built his first spec home without any previous knowledge or experience. Even though it was a lot of trial and error, he put the work in and committed himself to the project at hand.”
The senior Dhunna recognized the potential in the market and started building single family homes, townhomes, and small-scale commercial projects while amassing an impressive rental property portfolio over the next two plus decades. In 2009, he expanded his operation to include strategic land acquisitions to tackle larger multi-family developments and around this time the next generation became more involved with Raj Dhunna becoming actively involved in the company. “I was finishing up my MBA from the University of Alberta while getting a crash course in the school of hard knocks of being a project manager and managing our rental multi-family projects at the same time,” Dhunna says. “Balancing time, between school and work wasn’t easy, but going through that I learned the value of hard work and built on my foundation of a strong work ethic that my parents instilled in me.”
At the heart of Regency Developments’ core values is the Dhunna’s beliefs that building meaningful relationships is directly tied to the success of building better projects. “Delivering quality with a great product is essential in our process, and we take great pride in our ability to remain true to our company values,” he states. “To do that, you need to have the right team in place, and we have a devoted sales, leasing, service and management teams that ensure a positive and seamless experience that our valued clients deserve at our quality developments.”
Building meaningful relationships is also important to Regency Developments when it comes to their vendors and sub-contractors – that’s the only way to ensure consistent quality and efficiency. “The relationships we have built with our consultants, trades and suppliers are vital with the scale of projects at hand, and we’ve been working with many of them since the beginning days, so it’s great to have that confidence knowing the work is going to be done right backed with a high degree of trust.”
Regency is also proactive when it comes to the polices and plans city officials have to redirect growth to transforming and rejuvenating built-up areas and intensifying the current urban fabric. The benefits of infill development include bringing more people closer to transit, replacing old, inefficient homes, and utilizing existing community infrastructure. “We felt early on at Regency that infill development was a key opportunity because a lot of people in established neighbourhoods want to downsize but not necessarily move away from the neighbourhood they’ve known their whole lives,” Dhunna says. “Exploring further ways to increase housing options represents a generational opportunity to reimagine Edmonton’s extensive low-rise neighbourhoods as more inclusive places for existing and future residents to call home.”
However, the boom in development has not been without growing pains. “When we started Regency in 2008, we didn’t focus on where Edmonton was at the time, we focused on what the future of Edmonton would look like. We went into the neighbourhoods that hadn’t seen any new developments in decades,” says Dhunna. “The ‘not in my backyard’ mentality was really strong, and everyone had a seemingly unjust opposition to development projects. Rezoning at the time wasn’t a common thing, but the city was in its infancy when it came to infill developments. It was interesting to build relationships with the city and work with them work on rezoning process and policies such as community contributions that they necessarily didn’t even have at the time,” Dhunna says. “These community benefits are built within a new project. Sometimes it’s a financial payment that delivers benefits somewhere in the city; or building bus stops or using excavated dirt to build a toboggan hill for the school nearby. We are proud to have established deep meaningful relationships with the City, as when they want to try something different with a city pilot project for example they don’t hesitate to work with us because they know Regency will deliver every time.”
SHAPING THE SKYLINE
Regency has completed many prominent projects that have left their mark on the Edmonton skyline including: The Pearl, consisting of 36 storey and 128 units; the 700+ rental suites at Edgewater Village, a mix of 2 towers and 2 wood walkups, and the 400 rental suites located in two 10-storey mid-rise concrete buildings at 121 West, just to name a few. Each project is approached with a unique architectural objective, attempting to pin down the economic, social, and environmental value of good urban design. “When we begin a new project we want to design bold and inspiring spaces for people and reinforce a sense of place in the communities we build. With the Pearl we wanted to build an iconic landmark that the city hadn’t seen before. We wanted to shift the future identity of our city and our vision was to bring something to a vibrant and growing city core,” Dhunna says. “We decided to make it stand out architecturally – sleek and sophisticated with floor-to-ceiling curtain glass walls at 36 stories, at the time the tallest residential building ever built in the city. Our mindset is to bring visionary projects that fit the neighborhood in terms of its character but brings a modern touch to it.”
Committed to building interconnected communities in thriving neighbourhoods, Regency Developments current master-planned redevelopment in Holyrood fulfills one of the city’s main goals of developing more densely populated neighbourhoods near public transit. “Edmonton has had its challenges with the development of successful transit-oriented developments (TOD) and we look forward to massively shifting that narrative over the coming years. With TOD, we’re not only building the residences, but we’re also building neighbourhood renewal that contributes to the overall sustainability of the city,” Dhunna says.
Holyrood Gardens will consist of 1,200 residential units in eight buildings over 12 acres that will be between four- and 26-storeys tall, located at 8310 93 Avenue Northwest and adjacent to the Holyrood stop on the Valley Line LRT. Fully finished one, two and a handful of three-bedroom suites will be available with 9-foot ceilings, expansive windows, and plenty of common amenity space for residents. “Almost 50 percent of it is going to be green space, or public amenities space which allows residents get to know your neighbours. One of the many things we collaborated on with the city council and the community was their desire to see family-oriented units.
A LOOK AHEAD
Regency Developments offers unique sensibility with each project they undertake. While each project is distinct, its primary focus is to deliver a common purpose of high quality and value aimed at community and city building, and at the same time, deliver products on time and on budget.
Looking toward the future, Dhunna plans to continue their marketplace expansion throughout Edmonton, while still committing to the original values that made the company successful. “Even though we have had opportunities to build larger scale developments outside of Edmonton, we choose not to. This is our home; we love Edmonton and want to continue to bring iconic projects to the city,” he says. We have three sites in our portfolio that still need to be developed so that will keep us busy from the next 10 years. True focus on diversification, migration and immigration are key for the future and to our economic recovery and long-term city building. ” Overall, this thriving, family-owned company understands and never loses sight of the fact that you need to keep establishing and building on relationships and to build for the community to ensure that the future is bright.