Unique product for a once-in-a-lifetime experience is what multi-family builders involved with Three Sisters Village are busily creating.

"After this, there is no more. This is it, so we have to do it right," says Swan Group vice-president Mike Butt about the importance of the massive Canmore resort development.

All of the available land - about 2,000 acres - is being developed by a consortium headed by TGS Properties with United Communities managing the development. The land runs along the south side of Highway 1 from Deadman's Flats to the existing Canmore town site. East of Deadman's Flats is First Nations Land, south is the mountains, west is Banff National Park and north is the Silver Tip development.

"We also have to be, and are being, very sensitive to what we are designing and building. This is beautiful country and we want our homes to blend with it, not take away from it," Butt says.

Joe Fras, president of Assured Homes and Assured Developments, echoes those sentiments. "It's a unique opportunity to design unique product that fits well with the alpine surroundings," he says. Swan's plans call for 36 two-storey town-houses divided into clusters of six with exteriors of manufactured stone and timers build on a 1.6-acre site about "two minutes by car: from the Stewart Creek golf course, says company president Richard Li.

"What we have designed are getaway places for working professional couples or just for those who will look at this as an opportunity to make a lifestyle change," he adds.

Measuring from 1,100 to 1,300 square feet, the townhouses will come in various configurations of two-and three-bedroom floor plans. Li estimates the average cost will be about $250,000 with condo fees in the range of $150 or $160 per month.

"We've built in a sensitive are before on Vancouver Island near Nanaimo, so we had some idea of what to expect in Canmore. But Canmore and United have their own concerns, and rightly so," says Butt.

"After buying the land, Swan officials took their architect with them to look at it, to get a feel for what they were working with. Even then, it took five or six meetings before coming up with a concept they felt comfortable with presenting to United and town officials.

An interesting element to the design will be parking. Three clusters will face the street with three others behind; separating them will be a concrete-covered driving lane the width of a city street that leads to double-car garages.

The concrete roof becomes the area for private patios and walkway for the use of residents.

"We want this to be done right, it's that simple," Butt says, adding that Swan will be in the ground this summer with a construction period of eight to nine months.

Assured will be in the Three Sisters Village project as both a single-family and multi-family contributor.

"We are excited and confident with the plans that have been set in place will finally start to see Three Sisters evolve. It's been a long time coming to this point," says Fras.

"As a recreational development, I can see this project growing and taking a bigger share of the resort market."

As for what Assured is designing and planning to build, Fras is holding his cards close to his chest.

"We're not really ready to discuss our product style or theme, but I think it will be unique to the Canmore market," he says.

It will be attached housing ranging from 900 to 1,300 square feet, with prices from $180,000 to $230,000.

"We're not talking townhouses, but 70 to 80 flats with ground-level entrances on a four-acre site. That's all I can say right now," Fras says, adding it will appeal to retired or semi-retired people looking for a lifestyle change, as well as singles or couples with no children - whether younger or empty-nesters.

Written by: Marty Hope and published in the Calgary Herald.