You’ve seen the signs: YogaTown, ArtTown, DogTown. Midtown in St. Albert’s South Riel development area aims to be that and more once everyone's moved in. One of its monikers can already be claimed as fact: GreenTown.
One of St. Albert’s newest neighbourhoods is already the country’s very first Built Green certified community. The industry-driven program lives, eats and sleeps sustainability. Built Green’s Communities Pilot means the development is based on cost-effective housing, healthier, more durable housing and housing that has a lower impact on the environment.
Check 'being cool' successfully off the list, says Paul Lanni, president of Midtown’s developer, Averton.
“It's a marathon, not a sprint,” Lanni said, noting good things take time.
“We're very early on. We've been at it for a long time trying to create great outcomes from the perspective of land use to create that diverse offering. There's just years and years of thought that has gone into how to create something that is excellent and diverse and progressive and innovative.”
The 45-acre development sits in South Riel right across the road from the Enjoy Centre. Design is everything for Averton, the Multifamily Builder of the Year in 2018. The company broke ground on the multi-phase project back in September 2019 after several years in the planning and approval process. The big picture will reportedly one day see 1,100 housing units, including seniors housing and commercial properties, in a landscape that Lanni describes as more than sustainable.
Midtown is designed with connections in mind, he said, meaning connections between people and their neighbours, people with their community and people with nature. A healthy community is based on that, he averred. To that effect, there's a retreat area for yoga, Midtown Commons for neighbours to get together and Midtown Park for fresh air walks among all the green trees. A community garden and a dog park are part of the future map here.
“We see the sustainability being in the everyday experiences of people more than anything else. The diverse mixture of uses really leads to sustainability inherently,” he said. “The main thing that has guided us in this community is about people over automobiles. It's about putting our people first. It's about re-establishing that front door culture, and having gathering places and social connection, which are things that have escaped the development industry for some time.”
“When you break it all down, it's about putting people into a community where they can thrive and feel good.”
Apart from the quick access to the Enjoy Centre, the location is one of St. Albert’s most energetic hubs of activity, with Red Willow pathways that connect – there’s that word again – its residents to Big Lake and Lois Hole Provincial Park (just across Ray Gibbon Drive), not to mention the Sturgeon River leading down to Lions Park, St. Albert Place and the rest of the city. Of course, Anthony Henday Drive is a quick access thanks to Ray Gibbon Drive, with Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and Levasseur Road leading you everywhere else.
“I would say the connection to the rest of the region is a huge opportunity,” Lanni said. “There's a lot of development going on in the area and I think it's going to be a great option for people.”
Averton has been taking appointments for viewings for several weeks already and the first residents could be moving into the neighbourhood in early spring with units starting in the $300,000 range. Some of the key features in these modern townhomes include high windows and rooftop patios.
People can visit livemidtown.ca to book a viewing. There will be 86 ‘premium’ townhome units ready for tenancy with another dozen still under construction. After that, phase 2 begins on the higher end retirement residences with new commercial developments, including neighbourhood scale food and beverage, as well as service sector retail.