Ben Mycroft, Senior Development Manager, Gablecraft Homes
|For our October 2020 Newsletter, we asked Ben Mycroft about Gablecraft Homes, his work there, and a bit about his life outside of work.
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Can you briefly introduce yourself and Gablecraft Homes
I was born in Prince Rupert, and moved to Sidney as a child. My original career aspirations were to be a helicopter pilot like my dad. I later changed my mind and took an interest in urban development and land use planning, wrapping up my time at UVic and intending to head off to planning school. I was sidetracked on a short term role in the development industry, and 15 years later I haven’t left, and managed to complete some additional schooling through UBC remotely. I have ground my way through a few tough cycles, and tough projects to gain the experience I needed to be working at this level on a very high performing team. I am excited about the future of our region, an island of real estate safety and stability in this strange new world we live in.
Gablecraft Homes is the developer of Royal Bay, and is part of the Apex Group of Companies which has various development interests in Western Canada and Seattle. Our largest sister company, Excel Homes, is a top 3 Calgary home builder, and is also growing in Edmonton. Our group brings extensive, senior level real estate knowledge and experience in Master Planned Community Development, single family home construction, retail, and also mid-rise residential multi-family construction. Gablecraft Homes has projects also in Nanaimo, Squamish and Penticton and is growing in B.C. We self-perform single family and townhome construction management and have a growing workforce and large trade base at Royal Bay.
What is the most challenging part of your job, what do you love the most?
The most challenging part of my job is working with the complete cross section of personalities in the community and business world that need to be aligned, and different needs reconciled. Development in the BC, and especially Victoria, context is a uniquely local and personal relationship driven process.
What do you love most about living in Victoria?
I enjoy being part of a medium size and vibrant city where people are deeply passionate about living, and who care deeply about the issues that affect us all. I am especially proud of the work that I am part of, building the new frontier of Greater Victoria, and setting the stage for making Colwood a premier urban destination set amidst the stunning waterfront and wild lands.
When you’re not working, what are your favourite activities?
I enjoy time with my family, and I am engaged in the broader development and local community. I enjoy staying fit and riding my mountain bike to balance out the work stress. I have also developed a love of landscaping and although that is part of my work, I enjoy landscape design and building beautiful and thoughtful public spaces in parks and playgrounds. These places make a meaningful difference in the enjoyment of peoples lives on a daily basis and over the long term, and is a legacy that will survive our company developing the land and selling private dwellings.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you
I am lucky to have a large undeveloped site and a flexible working office environment. I have raised my 3-year old yellow Labrador retriever, Penny, to come with me to work every day. Her job is to keep the invasive non-migratory Canada geese scared away before they lay eggs in our development site. I have found it saves me needing to walk her if she gets half an hour to run around the site. She just knows she has to come back for treats.
How has COVID effected sales at Royal Bay?
Royal Bay has been building momentum for 5 years now, and it has really hit it’s stride as the pandemic hit. The pandemic has made people reconsider their long term buying intent and where they want to live and work. Places like Royal Bay seem to have become a focus for many. With a large proportion of our residents having government employment, working from home has become a dominant theme. The natural setting and outdoor amenities is a stronger draw when you think about driving downtown only 2-3 days per week down from 5, or only to check in. Anecdotally there are now people able to live at Royal Bay who can remotely work for employers located off-island, who until recently had to maintain secondary homes in Vancouver. Our sales have exceeded our wildest business plan projections and we are working to develop more lots, townhome projects and now the commercial core of Royal Bay all at once. Multi family and office will also be part of the Commons village core.
Can you describe the long term plans for Royal Bay?
With the adoption of our rezoning for Latoria South this past September (2020), the announcement of the new Elementary School and the new Shopping Centre with grocery anchor tenant, as well as the new RBCM Collections and Research Facility, the plans have accelerated past any of my past experience working in Victoria. Gablecraft Homes will be investing upwards of $50 million dollars in infrastructure and land preparation to build all the backbone roads and services in 2021/2022.
What draws people to live in Royal Bay?
The balance of work, lifestyle and outdoor recreational opportunities. Royal Bay is a growing village centre perched on the Metchosin border. World class West Coast wild places in Metchosin, Sooke and out to Port Renfrew; with sports hubs growing in Langford and the existing Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, we offer a unique outdoor recreation lifestyle, as well as access to waterfront and high quality public and park spaces in the Greenway and central Green. Everyday shopping needs will be met with the upcoming grocery store and retail village, and new bus exchange breaking ground in 2021.
How has the municipality of Colwood been to work with?
Mayor and Council along with the new CAO Robert Earl have been working harder than I have seen anywhere outside of Langford to bring big deals to the City. This has paid off with Seaspan, The Royal BC Museum Collections and Research facility, the new shopping centre at Royal Bay, and more exciting plans in the wings. They are landing some of the big, once in a lifetime opportunities by being more proactive than most. This will ensure a stable tax base as major public and private building investment happens, driving new amenities, high quality end users, and development dollars needed to fund road and transit infrastructure.