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Cedarglen acquisition expands Anthem's homebuilding presence

Known historically as CRE and multifamily developer, Vancouver firm continues branching out

Eric Carlson, the founder and CEO of Anthem Properties. (Courtesy Anthem Properties)

The acquisition of Calgary homebuilder Cedarglen Homes by real estate investor, developer and manager Anthem Properties is a strategic decision to expand its presence in the sector, according to Anthem’s founder and CEO Eric Carlson.

The acquisition, announced earlier this month, brings together a company with a significant western Canadian commercial and multifamily presence in Anthem, and a mid-sized homebuilder with a 40-year history in Calgary and a slew of local awards for its projects and service.

Carlson told RENX Homes the deal is a result of Cedarglen’s long-time owner Teresa Del Frari looking to move on from being the majority shareholder. From Anthem's perspective, adding Cedarglen to its holdings will accelerate its homebuilding strategy and allow it to combine the skill sets from both companies.

“Anthem’s already building homes in Alberta, but we’re sort of just new at it," Carlson told RENX Homes, "so getting Cedarglen really accelerated our ability to learn about and be a part of that business indirectly through Cedarglen.”

Founded in 1991, Anthem currently holds over $6 billion in assets under management in western Canada and California. It is involved in condominium, high-rise and low-rise development; land development and home building in Alberta; and owns and operates an income property portfolio of shopping centres, warehouses and apartments. It has approximately 700 employees.

One of its residential communities under construction is D'ARCY in Okotoks, Alta., a 280-acre development of townhomes, paired homes and single-family homes.

The vertically integrated company does not have a traditional head office, Carlson said; its largest office is in Vancouver with core offices in Edmonton, Calgary and Sacramento.

Carlson did not disclose the value of the acquisition.

Cedarglen is a homebuilder founded over 40 years ago that focuses on the Calgary market. 

Acquiring Cedarglen

The relationship between the two companies started with Cedarglen as a customer of Anthem, Carlson recalled. His company became familiar with the management and De lFrari, and had maintained the connection over a period of years.

When Carlson learned of the opportunity to acquire Cedarglen, it fit in nicely with his desire to increase Anthem's focus on homebuilding.

Cedarglen has approximately 100 employees and builds 200 to 300 homes annually. The company has employees skilled at their jobs, is transparent and has established a good brand, Carlson said.

To that end, Cedarglen won the H.O.M.E. Award for Builder of Choice as well as best customer experience in 2023 in its division, for the Calgary region. It has been a finalist and previous winner on numerous occasions at the awards.

The addition of Cedarglen makes Anthem a better integrated real estate company, Carlson added, by complementing its existing land development division. Having an in-house homebuilder can help it carry land developments through a recession or slow period in the market, and offers additional insights into “why you develop land this certain way if you’re also a house builder.”

Anthem is involved in residential developments in Calgary and Edmonton in eight communities, and has developed and sold 1,500 single-family lots in Alberta.

The homebuilding market in Calgary is doing well Carlson said. Interprovincial migration is fuelling demand for housing in the region, which remains among the most affordable large urban centres in the country.

Keeping Cedarglen as Cedarglen

Carlson stressed that the acquisition will not change the culture of Cedarglen, nor its leadership for the foreseeable future.

“We thought Cedarglen would be a lot more successful if we just bring our expertise and share it with them, we take their expertise and share it with us, but they stay Cedarglen,” he explained.

CEO Howard Tse will remain in his role, and so will its senior leadership, Carlson said. Del Frari will stay on as chief information officer and its daily operations will remain independent of Anthem, though the companies do plan to work closely together to share expertise.

Carlson said Anthem's backing will provide stability for Cederglen and maintain competition in the marketplace.

Cedarglen’s current projects include:

Anthem’s homebuilding division is planning to develop more single-family homes in Calgary as well, Carlson said, and will remain active in Vancouver as mainly a high-rise condo developer.

In fact, with ongoing economic and market uncertainty, high interest rates and a limited availability of capital for development and other projects, Carlson said steering a "Steady Eddie" course for the business is his plan for the medium term.

"You won't see anything sort of stupendous or really exciting about us next year," he said. "You'll just see us continuing to do what we've always done."

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