Lots of development is going on. Higher down payments are now required on expensive houses, but not necessarily required on the more affordable town houses and condominiums. If you want to live or invest here while minimizing the amount of snow you need to handle each winter, this is a great time to plan your move to Edmonton.
High-rise condominiums and office towers are being planned. At Globalnews.ca, Eric Szeto reports that Ontario-based Rise Real Estate is working on a “twin towers” mixed-use building that will be 51 storeys high. The company plans to invest three to four hundred million dollars to construct this combination of 1300 residential units and 44,000 square feet of office and retail space. Although this plan leaves room for only 300 parking stalls, the towers are expected to attract renters, condo home buyers, and plenty of business by being “walkable” and close to MacEwan University. The more of their “downtown” errands people can take care of without leaving the building, the better.
Other high-rise, mixed-use buildings offer to keep the inner city buzzing, if not bustling, with traffic. One proposed new building will be 62 storeys high; another, 71 storeys. Downtown Edmonton hopes to revitalize the “warehouse district” by attracting more downtown residents to new developments that restore and expand upon historic buildings. Ian O’Donnell hopes relatively high-density buildings will “really create a neighbourhood” where people work, shop, and get acquainted near their homes.
Worldwide, there’s a wave of interest in reducing the pollution and ecological damage done by urban sprawl, encouraging people who spend their days downtown to spend most of their nights downtown as well. “Walkable” downtown areas, the kind where most people can walk to most of the places they need to go every day, promise to be safer and quieter than the kind where everybody is trying to drive on the same streets at the same time. MacEwan University is catching the wave with its proposed construction of 330 new student housing units.
“We know for sure,” says Gordon Kent of the Edmonton Journal, that the LRT expansion development and Royal Alberta Museum construction “are going ahead.” The Oilers are getting their new arena, with an “arena tower” development especially for sports-related attractions. Those flagship attractions are towing a string of related real estate development after them. It’s hoped that the Royal Alberta Museum and the Ukrainian-Canadian Museum extension will generate enough traffic to launch an arts complex, which could include a city-supported artist colony, with 64 living quarters as well as display areas, a library, and a garden. MacEwan University is planning a new arts building, as well. People who look forward to driving less in adverse weather are expected to swarm into budget-friendly row houses and condominiums. This will allow them to save money on house payments, since low down payments are still possible when the total price is below $500,000…and they’re likely to spend some of that money on downtown restaurants and shopping.
Altogether, City Councillor Scott McKeen promises a “sort of metamorphosis that no downtown in North America has ever seen.” While futuristic “towers” buildings give some designers’ visions of downtown Edmonton a jagged skyline, like New York’s but more uneven, the Globe and Mail reports that many real estate investors are keeping their feet on the ground…like Terry Paranych, who recently scored a decent-looking, three-storey, six-unit building for $505,000. While the Central MacDougall neighbourhood has historically offered houses and apartments that fit into tight budgets, Melanie Reuter reports that stadiums automatically boost the price of real estate, and investors are “gobbling up” these formerly cheap buildings.
How will this affect the residents of the historically low-income neighbourhood?
The ideal outcome is, of course, that they’ll be able to walk to better paying jobs in the new businesses, and enjoy higher incomes. Thinking realistically, Mr. Paranych promises that rent in his buildings won’t go up. “You can still get a decent one-bedroom apartment for $800 a month,” he told the Globe and Mail, referring to his six-unit building with the sign in front that reads “No Vacancy.” The corporations that are “gobbling up” other buildings make no such promises. In fact condos under construction in the upscale “Ice District” are being advertised as some of the most luxurious–and expensive–condos on Earth.
“This is exactly the right time for this type of development,” city economist John Rose told reporters. “Additional residential units will provide a solid foundation for services and amenities. And get rid of a few of those surface parking spots while we’re at it!”
Right…most of these visions for a booming, buzzing, “walkable” Edmonton anticipate less use of private motor vehicles. An expanded LRT needs riders. Visitors to the city into which Edmonton is developing should plan to park on the edge of town and walk or use public transportation while in the city. For the ideal residents of the new apartment buildings, and the businesses that serve them, anything that reduces motor traffic is good.
So, maybe not all of it will happen. In this type of situation, city councils may withhold permits for a few years to see whether population growth trends continue and they can continue the development. While more modest investors may feel that they’re being kept out of the competition, they’re also being protected from heavy losses in the event that Edmontonians decide they don’t like living on the thirtieth floor of a building.
However, with twelve new condominium buildings under construction, it seems unlikely that Edmontonians will have to move higher up the towers than they want to move. Whether they want the built-in insulation of a ground-floor apartment or the view from the tenth floor, there’s still time to secure their preferred level of luxury.
Thank you reading. And please free to Join the Conversation by leaving a comment below!