By Jan Melnyk
When looking for a neighborhood, it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with an area. The zone numbers indicated below correspond to those designated by the REALTORS(R) Association of Edmonton (www.ereb.com).
The catchword for the inner core of Edmonton is revitalization! Years ago, everyone fled to the suburbs, and the inner core was deserted. Not any more. The downtown buzz is building as Edmontonians return. It is fast becoming the cool place to live.
Downtown (Zone 12)
Edmonton’s downtown is filling with downsizing baby-boomers, tired of commuting and yard work. Young movers and shakers are setting up digs in spacious lofts refitted in old brick warehouses. New skyscraper condos boast breathtaking views of the river valley. Towers and low-rise condo complexes are adding more green spaces. You’ll find roof gardens or courtyards with water features, a new downtown trend. Vehicle-free urban living is touted as planet and pocketbook friendly, especially with handy public transit and several downtown stops on the el-train (Light Rail Transit). Joggers and cyclists can access trails in the adjoining river valley park system by foot. Urban malls include Edmonton City Centre and the boutique style Canterra Centre. Condo dwellers can walk to the Save-On-Foods grocery store. The main library, the Winspear concert hall, and Citadel Theatre are also walkable. Eateries are popping up everywhere, offering multicultural fare. Sir Winston Churchill Square is a central meeting place and home to many events including A Taste of Edmonton, Edmonton Jazz Festival, and The Street Performers Festival. The Edmonton Queen riverboat docks at Rafter’s Landing, steps down the hill from downtown.
Queen Mary Park (Zone 8)
Just north of downtown, you’ll find Queen Mary Park. She’s like a grand lady: a little faded and shopworn, but emanates inner beauty. The neighborhood is a starting point for many newcomers from other lands- its border on 107th Avenue has been dubbed "The Avenue of Nations". Rentals are scarcer now, as infill condos have replaced older buildings. The average one-bedroom apartment in Queen Mary Park now nears $700 a month. On the flip side, the condo market is taking off. Condos are close to downtown but their prices are lower, enabling young professionals to enter the market. Queen Mary Park has a high student population with nearby NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and Grant McEwan College. The famed Victoria School of Performing Arts is blocks away in Central-McDougall.
Riverdale (Zone 13)
Kitschy Riverdale is nestled on North Saskatchewan River, tucked at the bottom of steep Rowland Road, and across Dawson Bridge. A hop, skip and mostly a jump from downtown, you won’t find skyscrapers here. Not for the faint of heart, the neighborhood has experienced a few floods in its long and winding journey. As for going green, Riverdale is the site of Edmonton’s first net-zero-energy duplex, where solar energy provides heating and electricity year-round. An award winning achievement: Riverdale elementary students plant vegetable gardens, and celebrate harvest by making hearty soup for Riverdalians. They’re an artsy folk too. Don’t be surprised to see a flamingo-pink or purple turreted mansion among the homes from many eras. Artist studios and a housing co-op contribute to the bohemian feel. A newer development in Riverdale is The Brickyard. Originally a saw mill in 1881, and later a brick-making operation, the brick homes reflect the site’s storied history. Riverside Allen Stein Park is lined with mammoth poplars, with bicycle trails meandering along the river.
SOUTH CENTRAL EDMONTON
On the south side of the river, neighborhoods easily access the University of Alberta and border on trendy Whyte Avenue, the hub for shoppers and clubbers.
Allendale (Zone 17)
This quieter, older city neighborhood is dotted with well-built semi-bungalows intermingled with infill single-family homes and duplexes. The 40- and 50- foot lots render them ideal for replacing aging dollhouses with larger modern two-storeys. Many Allendale residents have updated their tidy wartime homes surrounded by white picket fences. The Cheers-like Allendale Pub is a popular meeting place. Located between 109th Street and Calgary Trail, Allendale is close to the University of Alberta, U of A Hospital, trendy Strathcona and the river valley. Allendale students can attend 100-year-old Strathcona Composite School, Edmonton’s oldest high school, known for academic excellence.
Garneau (Zone 15)
Garneau is one of Edmonton’s few remaining historical neighborhoods - and it’s truly lovely. Historic elm and ash trees grace character homes. Garneau’s vintage homes include Rutherford House, built in 1912 by Premier Rutherford, and Emily Murphy House, former home of the famous women’s advocate. Lucky elementary students attend a rustic red-brick school. Four- and five-storey apartment buildings and a few high-rises are next to the U of A campus. Garneau’s proximity to the university contributes to its high student population. Nearby is the retro Garneau Theatre, as well as trendy eateries like the High Level Diner. The club scene of Whyte Avenue is a bike-ride away. Garneau is tucked between the University and Strathcona.
Mill Woods used to comprise the entire southeast residential part of Edmonton. Recently, newer neighborhoods have sprung up in the most southeastern corner of the city, offering more choices to homebuyers.
Mill Woods (Zone 29)
Mill Woods’ population nears 100,000, but it’s still part of Edmonton. The community is laid out among a series of ring roads unlike the grid layout of Edmonton’s streets and avenues. Comprised of over eight neighborhoods, its houses are spacious and contemporary, arranged in cul-de-sacs, crescents and courts. Mill Woods boasts everything except a downtown. It has a mega-mall, hospital, and golf course, and numerous schools and sport complexes. The multi-cultural flavour of Mill Woods is found in its bustling soccer leagues for both kids and adults. Surrounding industrial parks provide much of the area’s employment. Mill Woods offers more affordability than most south side addresses. The International airport is a quick commute. Find Mill Woods south of Whitemud Freeway and north of Anthony Henday Drive.
Lake Summerside (Zone 29)
Heading to the cabin? Why bother when you live year-round in Lake Summerside, Edmonton’s Cape Cod? It’s the only Edmonton community with a swimmable man-made lake. Its Maritime feel emanates from its pastel-hued, decked homes. The 500-acre development will include 3,000 homes when completed. From $300,000 to $450,000 for single-family dwellings to $2 million for sprawling waterfront homes, there’s something for every active lifestyle. Membership at the homeowners’ beach club is mandatory and includes numerous outdoor activities like sailing, beach volleyball, and tennis. Seasonal activities abound: swimming, fishing and non-motorized boating in summer; pond hockey and ice fishing in winter. Summerside’s demographic is 85 percent families with children. The 32-acre lake is private, accessible only to local residents. Its location near Calgary Trail and Anthony Henday Drive make for easy access to shopping at South Edmonton Common and commuting to the International airport. Find Lake Summerside at 66th Street and Ellerslie Road.
The southwest offers some of Edmonton’s most prime real estate. With its creeks and forested areas, the setting for homes is considered idyllic. You’ll be awed by palatial homes in prestigious neighborhoods such as Henderson Estates, but some are more pocketbook-friendly.
Rutherford (Zone 16)
For those who love the lush greenery of the southwest, but can’t afford its top-end neighborhoods, Rutherford is a practical solution. New homes are set among stands of undisturbed forest adjacent to the University farmland. Ponds and walking/cycling trails wind their way through the greenery of Rutherford. Baseball diamonds and soccer fields make this area great for growing families. The eight-year-old neighborhood offers all manner of homes including condos, duplexes and single-family homes. Country-style semi-attached homes sell in the mid $400,000s. The city plans to open a new K-9 public school here in 2010. Major shopping is a short drive away to both Southgate and South Edmonton Common. Find Rutherford between 119th Street and Ellerslie Road and 34th Avenue.
Ambleside (Zone 14)
For those wanting a spanking new home in the southwest with all the perks of urban life, Ambleside might be a perfect fit. It’s a new development south of Anthony Henday Drive on 170 Street. Housing options include everything from apartment-style condos to semi-detached homes and single-family dwellings and executive walkouts. Home styles offer a lot of choice. Condos in the works will appeal to first-time buyers - they start at $198,000. Carriage lamps and boulevard trees flank pedestrian paths. The planned retail district, Currents of Windermere, will provide an urban experience with specialized stores and brick streets. A new southwest police station is being built across the street.
NORTH CENTRAL EDMONTON
North-end neighborhoods run the gamut from older blue-collar neighborhoods to newer lakeside subdivisions. The north end has easy access to the east-west freeway, Yellowhead trail, and the downtown north-south corridor, 97th Street.
Village at Griesbach (Zone 27)
The Village at Griesbach, the first urban village in Edmonton, has been awarded the 2008 award for best development. Streets are named after Canadian peacekeepers. Home designs offer five traditional styles: Victorian, Tudor, Craftsman, Prairie, and Colonial. Homes are finished with historic features including stone, pitched roofs, widows’ walks, dormer windows, pillers and rocker-style verandas. Garages are tucked tidily away in back laneways. Pedestrian paths wind their way to man-made Patricia Lake across Bailey footbridge with green space galore. Life-size statues of Major General William Griesbach, a First World War hero, and his wife, Janet, add character to the streetscape. Home types include townhouses, four-storey condos, duplexes, single-family dwellings, and executive homes. Prices are top end, reflecting the exclusiveness of the neighborhood. Executive town-home condos are priced in the low $400,000s. A boutique-style mall with adjoining condos is in the works. Nearby amenities include the Castle Downs YMCA and the big-box stores to the west along 137th Avenue. Downtown is straight south on 97th Street.
Calder (Zone 1)
The Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad workers settled the town of Calder over 100 years ago; in 1907, it was amalgamated with Edmonton. It has recently been targeted as a revitalization area. Calder’s history is evident in its rustic red-brick elementary school. Kids can walk to high school. Amenities include a park, a drop-in senior centre, an outdoor rink and a community hall. Homes are eclectic, ranging form dollhouse to two-storey. First-time home buyers can find deals here. The biggest trend now is infill housing where modern two-storeys are replacing handy man specials. Owners are taking pride in their yards, rejuvenation the neighborhood. You’ll see joggers and couples walking arm-in-arm. Calder’s selling point is found in its natural beauty. Gargantuan century-old elm trees grace boulevards, providing a cooling canopy to streets in summer. Calder is a dying breed - you can still find a mom-and-pop corner store here. It’s definitely in transformation mode, the once ugly duckling becoming a beautiful swan. Downtown is handy via 127th Street, and big-box shopping is due north along 137th Avenue.
Rosslyn (Zone 1)
This modest, unassuming neighborhood, north of Yellowhead Trail and just west of 97th Street, is made up of sturdy stucco and vinyl-sided bungalows circa 1960. Townhouse units add to the residential area. Towering spruce trees dominate the skyline. Homes for sale are snapped up quickly by buyers seeking large established yards. Kids can walk to the elementary school and play soccer in neighborhood parks. There is a bike/footpath that used to be an old railroad line. In June 2009, the average selling price of a single-family dwelling in Rosslyn was $287,000. The Grand Trunk Leisure centre and off-leash dog park is next door. Residents can walk to Safeway or Sobey’s. Rosslyn’s neighborhood bakery is known citywide for its pitas.
The Northeast, with its coal-miner roots, has a bit of a tough reputation. But this blue-collar area is home to one of the most exclusive neighborhoods. The Highlands is known for its majestic mansions overlooking the river. The northeast offers more affordability than most areas.
Canon Ridge (Zone 35)
This neighborhood is taking off with new development. New condos, attached and detached single-family homes are springing up among st its hilly setting. Located on the eastern perimeter of the city, right at 118th Avenue and Hermitage Road, the area’s proximity to natural Hermitage Park makes for an eye-catching backdrop. Condos are very reasonable, starting at $180,000. Cute colonial starter homes are also more affordable here because of Canon Ridge’s distance from the city core. Hermitage Park’s riverside setting offers picnicking, fishing, and off-leash dog trails. Schools are right next door in Overlanders. The city’s north-side indoor soccer complex is within walking distance. A vehicle is recommended - Canon Ridge is on the bus line, but there’s no neighborhood shopping. Canon ridge is minutes away from Yellowhead Trail.
Glengarry (Zone 2)
It’s the Leave-to-Beaver retro neighborhoods like Glengarry that are drawing families of school-aged children. Students can walk to elementary, junior high, and high schools in both public and separate systems. Numerous places of worship are found here. Glengarrians can cycle or walk to their own indoor mall, Northgate Centre. Nearby Londonderry indoor mall boasts over 150 stores. O’Leary Pool and Leisure Centre and expansive Glengarry Park are right in the neighborhood. Every single house is different. Most have spacious lots with tidy, well-established gardens and mature trees. Townhouses and condos add to the residential mix. Transit is ideal - just across 137th Avenue, is the Northgate bus depot with connections to numerous destinations. Downtown is due south down 97th Street. Home seekers will find a smattering of properties for sale. Prices are average compared to the city.
*All above information taken from "Welcome to the Neighborhood", With Permission, Moving to Alberta Magazine, 2008 All rights reserved.