NAIT campus to double in size after land purchase

NAIT will be expanding its main campus by almost double after acquiring 18 hectares of city-owned land, which includes a portion of the Blatchford development.

Sale will help city move forward on development of Blatchford, mayor says

A view of some of the land NAIT purchased from the city. The land was once the Edmonton municipal airport before becoming the Blatchford development site. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

NAIT will be expanding its main campus to almost double its size after acquiring 18 hectares of city-owned land, which includes a portion of the Blatchford development.

The polytechnic announced the expansion Wednesday.

NAIT acquired 13.27 hectares west of its current campus on the City of Edmonton's Blatchford development site, along with an option to purchase another 3.23 hectares.

It's also acquired another 4.8 hectares north of the campus, once home to the city's Westwood transit garage.

NAIT will make a student residence and a skills centre the priority for construction on its new site.

A map shows the Blatchford land purchased by NAIT from the city. (NAIT)

"If we compare against other similar institutions such as SAIT, we would probably need to build three to four towers in the next 10 to 15 years," said Glenn Feltham, NAIT president and CEO.

"We would probably be ultimately talking about at least a few thousand beds."

The city did not release the purchase price as it's negotiating the sale of other lots.

NAIT has received a $111 million loan from the province, which will go towards the purchase and other infrastructure projects.

NAIT expressed interest in purchasing the land back when the city first announced the Blatchford development project, said Mayor Don Iveson. 

"This is a huge shot in the arm for the Blatchford development," Iveson said. "The proceeds of the sale will help us move forward the development and the costs that we're undertaking. We will be ahead financially on Blatchford in the long run."

Some roads, street lights, and sewers have been built on the site, but the city is still in the process of negotiating construction deals.

"We'll see construction of the first residential buildings on the west side coming up this year and occupancy will follow when we're ready," he said.

It's expected the Blatchford development will house 30,000 people.

@travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca