Sheldon Creek charts new course for Carp Airport development

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The new owner of land around the Carp Airport says he intends to start constructing residential and commercial space around the west-end property next year, more than a decade after previous proponents first pitched development plans.

The Carp Airport.

Sheldon Creek, which has a portfolio of properties in Orangeville, Walkerton and Durham Region, says it bought out West Capital Developments earlier this year and is now managing the proposed $50-million project, which includes plans for the construction of 354 residential units and a 188-acre business park on the west-end airport property.

The original WCD proposal, approved in 2003, was for a gated fly-in community adjacent to a high-tech business park. But the idea never found its wings, and in the spring of 2012 one of the project’s partners pulled its funding.  

In January 2013, Sheldon Creek began its revamp of the plagued project and ditched plans for a residential airpark, says Sheldon Creek owner Andrew Wildeboer.

“We honestly don’t believe there’s a big enough market to build that type of community,” Mr. Wildeboer says. “Our focus has changed from promoting the development solely as a fly-in community to a residential development with large, serviced lots, as well as expansion to the business park.”

While the marketing strategy has shifted, the advantages of living beside an airport for recreational pilots and frequent business travellers will still be available. “We are going to have houses that have airport accessibility, so those that want to can have that option,” says Mr. Wildeboer.

Estate lots ranging from half an acre to five acres will start in the low $200,000s, and urban lots of 50 feet by 150 feet will start in the low $100,000s, Mr. Wildeboer says. Residents will receive city water, but will pay into a private sewage treatment system. The community will operate like a private condominium, with some of the maintenance fees directed to the airport.

The planned 188-acre business park will be carved into parcels of land ranging from one to 50 acres for businesses involved in aerospace, advanced manufacturing and technology industries.

Mr. Wildeboer says business reaction has been strong.

“We’re getting good interest. We can’t sell property yet but we have people interested in moving their companies out there,” he says.

Mr. Wildeboer says the team is on track to get shovels in the ground by next spring.

SIDEBAR: CARP AIRPORT

Carp Airport, located 2.2 kilometres south of the village, was originally a military airfield and used as a training base during the Second World War.

Transport Canada turned it over in 1997 to the former municipality of West Carleton, which became part of the City of Ottawa in 2001.

According to its website, West Carleton Developments was founded in 2002 with the purpose of developing the Carp Airport lands.

The local firm says city council agreed in 2003 to exclusively negotiate the sale of the property to WCD. Two years later, the city gave its final approval to the deal, which was to see WCD take “direct control” of the airport by the end of 2005.

A 2007 Ottawa Citizen article said plans for the fly-in community were moving “ahead cautiously, with numerous extensions of deadlines and interim benchmarks” for WCD, which was then led by president John Phillips.

The city finally sold the property to WCD for $1.2 million in 2010, according to media reports.

Organizations: Carp Airport, Ottawa Citizen

Geographic location: Orangeville, Walkerton, Durham Region Carleton

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