Urban/Suburban Marketing in Edmonton: The suburbs are winning
Published by Mack Male
Mack is on a mission to change the world through code and prose. An entrepreneurial journalist based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mack is the co-founder of Taproot Publishing, a digital publishing company that helps communities understand themselves better. View all posts by Mack Male
16 thoughts on “Urban/Suburban Marketing in Edmonton: The suburbs are winning”
Great post, Mack. I work on Windermere Blvd. and when people ask if I live nearby, I have to contain myself from laughing 🙂
I live downtown as well and you want to know what I do when I want a quiet night in, I stay in like any ordinary person. Downtown isn’t as loud or wild or busy as most people think. It’s a great balance and I love the proximity to everything.
Nice post. I was thinking of your campaign to bring Edmontonians to the core when I read this article on urban research in the economist http://www.economist.com/node/21557313. The article doesn’t make an entirely convincing argument, but it does seem to suggest that your efforts may be in vain, ”
Attempts to contain urban sprawl, long the prevailing paradigm of urban planning, for instance, could fall out of favour. ”
It leads me to wonder if Edmontons rate of expansion outwards is significantly higher than the global average of urban sprawl. Some of the statistics are frightening, especially if you consider that Edmonton may be sprawling faster than the average city. Consider an Edmonton taking up twice as much space in 20 years as the article suggests is inevitable, “the amount of urban land will double in only 19 years.”
Thanks for the comment Steven. You’re right, the continual expansion of our city’s limits is definitely cause for concern. I don’t think it is entirely a foregone conclusion however that the sprawl will continue. It’s an uphill battle, no doubt, but an important one.
What an excellent post! You’re absolutely right – I think it’s the prices that attract most people to the suburbs. When we bought our (nearly 100-year old) house in Old Strathcona, I couldn’t help but notice that we could get a brand new house, nearly three times as big, for the same price in the suburbs. However, as a one vehicle family, we calculated that, in the end, it would actually be more expensive to live in the suburbs. We would have to buy a second car; double insurance, maintenance and gas costs; pay for downtown parking; pay more for gas and car maintenance due to increased use, etc. Not to mention what our time is worth – it takes my husband 5 minutes to drive dowtown, and it takes me a total of 15 on public transportation. If I need groceries, I can walk 4 blocks and pick up everything I need.
It’s heartening to see how many young families are actually moving into my neighbourhood (primarily families that want to have a house and a yard, but don’t want to live miles away). I think it will be easier and easier to sell the core to the new generation of Edmontonians who are in the process of purchasing homes (i.e. the “gen Y”).
Interesting to hear that you did the math! I think too many people simply compare price and square footage and don’t really honestly consider the commute, let alone the costs associated with a second car.
Great to hear young families are moving into the neighbourhood!
I love this post Mack. It’s exactly what Edmonton needs – development of the downtown. Build it and they will come.
I recently purchased a new condo, and was looking in the downtown, Whyte, and south side areas. I looked at the Ion in Ambleside and ruled it out because I felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, so I definitely agree with you on that point that what they are selling isn’t what they are offering. Even when I went to look at their unit, I got lost because I didn’t realize it was in the development south of the rest of the condo developments, which were more conveniently located directly across from the Currents.
I would encourage you to consider looking at other buildings of the south side for comparison (although I understand that you chose Ambleside because of their marketing). After a long search, I chose to purchase in Rutherford because of the size of the units available, the price, the nearby amenities, and where I work (Sherwood Park, with frequent business travel through EIA). My condo actually is a 5 minute walk to many amenities including grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, banks, etc.
That being said, I do agree with you that homebuyers should consider all areas of the city, including the downtown core, and not shop with blinders on looking for only one area. Our city has a huge problem with people who identify with a certain neighborhood rather than living in the neighborhood that makes the most sense for their daily lives.
Good point Amanda, there are probably lots of comparisons with other buildings to be made that would help further this discussion. Thanks!
what I like about your downtown walk in search of amenities is the diversity you find. Yes there are chain stores/cafes/eating establishments, but there are also many local/ independent ones. Diversity is important.
The positive note is that they’re already selling downtown features, which means that this is something buyers are looking for. Marketers lying to please the market isn’t exactly news, and this is a big step from just a few years ago when they would have been pushing the lake and other “benefits” of suburbia.
I can understand why the Pearl needs to offer parking, and if it can attract people who currently think 2 cars is a requirement of a middle class lifestyle – and might later realise that it’s not – then that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t make sense for that to be front and centre in the marketing.
My partner and I own a condo on 121 St & 106 Ave – We decided we need a little more room, wanted to stay central (we are keeping the condo, too).
I have been watching for years and have started to see signs that it’s time to invest in some of the traditionally “distressed” neighborhoods with projects like the Arena District, NW LRT line, Royal Alberta Museum, The Quarters + more.
We bought a single family home in McCauley (Little Italy) August of 2012 and love the idea of having a house close to the action (plus who the heck doesn’t love the Italian Centre as their grocery store?!). Unlike Ambleside, our place is a 20 minute walk to the Downtown Core – and then a 10 minute walk to 2 LRT stations on 2 different lines.
I cannot possibly fathom why anyone with half a brain is remotely attracted to an area like Ambleside. I definitely think that another marketing disaster is how silent infill builders are in relation to mainstream suburban builders.
I am hoping that all the investment Downtown will draw people who want that lifestyle but in a house, like Calgary’s inner city.