Massive First Nations Taza Project in Suburban Calgary Adding Retailers with More Phases Being Planned [Interview]

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The Shops at Buffalo Run, part of Taza, one of North America’s largest First Nation development projects, continues to welcome new retailers to the sprawling project, on Tsuut’ina Nation, adjacent to Calgary.

And the overall development is poised to launch some of its other projects, including residential, on the massive site.

James Robertson

“We as Calgarians are always excited about growth and new things. The investment that the Ring Road (nearby and through the First Nation) represents and the increased accessibility in the Calgary southwest in particular really made this land become an extension of the community we all live in,” said James Robertson, President and CEO of Taza Development Corporation.

The Shops at Buffalo Run (Image: Taza)

“Calgarians are looking for new places to live and the location of this land that has had its accessibility dramatically change with the investment in the Ring Road and then when we combine that with the natural amenities of the Weaselhead (Flats Natural Environment Park), the Glenmore Reservoir and the natural areas around that, has just made it a spectacular spot.

“There are some great established residential neighbourhoods beside us from Lakeview and Discovery Ridge to further down you get into neighbourhoods around Southland Drive and Anderson Road. These are highly desirable areas for Calgarians to live.”

Taza Development Corporation is the development company hired by the limited partnership comprised of the First Nation and real estate company Canderel. They are 50/50 partners in the development.

Taza is made up of three villages currently referred to as Taza Park, Taza Crossing and Taza Exchange.

Image: The Shops at Buffalo Run

Taza Exchange is probably best known as it is home of The Shops at Buffalo Run, which is 278,000 square feet of retail and some office. It opened last year with tenants continuing to open this year and throughout early next year.

“There’s still some space left there but we’re down to about 10 per cent left in space. We’re almost full and it’s doing extremely well,” said Robertson. 

“The Shops at Buffalo Run were started shortly after the Costco was started and Costco at Buffalo Run has been open I think three years now and does extremely well. It’s one of the highest performing Costco’s in Canada. A very busy spot.

“We are currently planning Phase Two at that development likely to include a grocery anchor, a restaurant and potentially residential. We are starting the site work in the spring of 2024 and we’re working on agreements right now with potential tenants and some of them will initiate construction next summer and some of them will be in 2025.”

Costco at The Shops at Buffalo Run (Image: Taza)

Currently about 25 businesses are open. 

“We’ve done a really comprehensive job on trying to make sure we hit all the marks on a retail experience. So we have everything from a daycare and tenants that orient towards young kids. So everything from a dentist to a daycare. We have a very large pet store, veterinarian and dog care that will open early next year. Gold’s Gym will likely open early next year as well and then we have our complement of a really good cross section of food choices. Everything from a Freshii/Chopped Leaf type product right through to an KFC and Tim Hortons. A little bit of everything,” said Robertson. 

“We kind of complement that with some special uses like physio and medical. It really is a comprehensive experience. And we have a series of banks. Everything from BMO and TD and Servus.”

He said the second phase of the retail development will add between 150,000 to 200,000 square feet.

Upon full completion, The Shops at Buffalo Run will include 60 retailers. The cultural training offered to new businesses joining the Shops at Buffalo Run has provided a unique opportunity for education and inclusion which continues to support the overall Taza project pillars.

Maureen Henderson

“The design of The Shops at Buffalo Run, and the design of the entire Taza development, provides a unique opportunity to support businesses while also gaining an understanding of Indigenous art and design through unique murals and features,” said Maureen Henderson, Vice President, Community Experience for Taza Development Corporation. “Today, Buffalo Run provides a new shopping experience that is both inclusive and educational, allowing Calgarians to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the Tsuut’ina Nation.”

Taza is Dené, the language of the Tsuut’ina people, and means ‘something wondrous is coming.’ The Shops at Buffalo Run offer a variety of retail stores and shops within a distinct Tsuut’ina environment: unique art and architectural features provide a strong sense of place and culture while offering modern amenities and services. Several retailers have commissioned murals and other artwork by Tsuut’ina artists to represent the history, culture and connection to the land of the Tsuut’ina people.

Several businesses have been working with Tsuut’ina artist Josh Littlelight to create Indigenous murals, including Cupboards Express and Papa John’s Pizza. The murals are inspired by the people and history of the Tsuut’ina Nation.

The Shops at Buffalo Run (Image: Taza)

Taza spans 1,200 acres.

In Taza Park, which is the land around the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino, the auto dealership Metro Ford has opened as well and Big Four will open too and construction is underway for a Volkswagen dealership. A couple of more dealerships are to come as well. 

“We are launching our residential project in Taza Park next fall and we are currently in conversations with residential builders about sites in that neighbourhood and we are currently starting conversations with tenants for our Main Street in Taza Park which will include everything from grocery stores and pharmacies to boutique fitness and restaurants,” said Robertson. “Things are going well. Obviously a long way to go from ideas to creation but I think everyone’s excited about the opportunity.”

Image: Taza Development

Taza Crossing is a future project on the development site.

“It will be a combination of a business innovation centre and residential,” said Robertson.

Robertson said housing on the overall development will encompass everything from villas, townhouses, condominiums and purpose-built rentals.

“I think Taza Park will have approximately 6,000 homes. The other two developments we haven’t quite figured out yet,” he added.

The Tsuut’ina Nation is home to  2,300 community members.

Canderel is one of Canada’s largest privately held real estate companies. It was founded in 1975 by Jonathan Wener and has since grown from its base in Montreal to seven offices across Canada. Canderel owns and manages a more than 30 million square feet real estate portfolio in Canada’s seven major markets – Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Their team of over 650 real estate professionals has executed more than $20 billion in acquisitions, developments and management projects since its founding.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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