July 9, 2012

Every homebuilder relies heavily on surrounding amenities–shops, schools, medical centres and greenspace–when selling new neighbourhoods. But in rapidly-expanding north London, Auburn Developments Inc. is breaking new ground with a unique residential ­community boasting its own commercial district.

Ten years in the planning stages, Upper Richmond Village rests on 100 acres of prime land located north of Sunningdale Road and west of Richmond Street. Home plans include 138 high-end single-family units north of a Medway Creek tributary priced from $700,000 to $1.5 million, plus condominiums and townhomes.

While Auburn Developments requires its four participating builders–Bridlewood Homes, Carolina Homes, Domus Developments and Rawlings Homes–to adhere to strict architectural guidelines, the real uniqueness of this new neighbourhood is its future commercial district. A main street marketplace featuring shops and restaurants, a pharmacy and grocery store, plus medical and dental offices—all adjacent to parks and greenspace—will provide residents with a real sense of community, says Auburn Developments vice president, Stephen Stapleton.

"When we started this project 10 years ago, it was about the integration of commercial with community," says Stapleton. "Members of the family can go shopping or enjoy themselves at the park. It's not just another subdivision with a greenfield. It's about being part of a community, getting to know your neighbours."

Auburn Developments is partnering with London's Canadian Commercial Development (CCD) in building Upper Richmond Village's commercial district. CCD is leasing and managing the commercial component, which will see an initial phase ready for business in 2013, and continued building for two to three years.

Of the 175,000 square feet up for grabs, plans call for 35,000 square feet to house a medium-size grocery store. Stapleton says larger-footprint commercial development will face Sunningdale Road and Richmond Street, while the main street architecture will employ a "village feel" and face inwards within the community.

"The type of commercial tenants will be critical to success, so we're being patient with finding the right mix," says Stapleton. "The cafés, patios, coffee shops, combined with the necessity of a grocery store and other key components, including medical and dental, all contribute to ease of living and lifestyle. If you have these components, you stay in your community and spend money in your community. And the community then becomes successful."

Upper Richmond Village is also touting itself as London's first LEED community. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design) stems from a national green building ­rating system involving five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development; water and ­energy efficiency; materials selection; and indoor environmental quality.

"Our goal is to create communities that enhance the quality of life of the residents today, but also provide for the evolution of the population by offering choice in our selection of homes and by ensuring that natural features are retained for the health of the community," Stapleton says.

With a myriad of additional amenities just minutes away in the Masonville and Hyde Park shopping districts, Stapleton says the development is marketing to a broad demographic—everyone from young working professionals and growing families to empty-nesters and retirees.

"The entire design stage involved ­figuring out how people will live here and how they will enjoy living here," he says. "That's what we're trying to do here—be a community where you can buy your first home and stay for the rest of your life." Ω

• Located just north of Sunningdale Road and just west of Richmond Street, Auburn Development Inc.'s Upper Richmond Village residential development will feature 175,000 square feet of commercial space including shops, dining, pharmacy, grocery store and medical/dental offices.
• Auburn Developments is partnering with Canadian Commercial Development (CCD) in building the commercial component. CCD is handling the leasing and managing of the commercial space, which will see an initial phase ready for business in 2013.

484 Waterloo Street
London, Ontario