Jan. 31, 2020 | Geoff Geddes
The centre of it all: What does inner city really mean?Inner city is a term we use and misuse in equal measures, and as Calgary grows and the inner city's perceived boundaries seem to expand, understanding this term may be more relevant than we realize.
"According to the City of Calgary's Municipal Development Plan, the inner-city area comprises residential communities that were primarily subdivided and developed prior to the 1950s," said Ryan Murray, communications supervisor for planning and development with the City of Calgary.
"Key features of these areas are a grid road network, older housing stock in the form of low-to-moderate housing densities and a finer mix of land uses along many of the edge streets."
From a REALTOR®'s perspective, "inner city" is often seen as redeveloping areas with R2 zoning, which provides for single-detached homes, side-by-side and duplex homes, as well as multi-unit dwellings like row houses.
"In Calgary, the inner city would be bounded by areas like Killarney, Marda Loop and Altadore in the southwest, and by neighbourhoods such as Balmoral, Mount Pleasant and Tuxedo Park to the north," said Don Onda, a downtown-area condo specialist with RE/MAX iRealty Innovations.
"The inner city keeps getting better and better," said Onda. "We're seeing massive redevelopment there, with 60 highrises built over the last 20 years and 60 more expected in the next two decades." - Don Onda, RE/MAX iRealty Innovations
Though Calgary has grown dramatically over the years, the inner city's boundaries have remained constant.
"Just because the city has moved further out doesn't mean the inner city moved," said Onda. "Some would say Charleswood and Brentwood are now inner city because the edge of town has changed, but that doesn't make sense to me."
However, one aspect of the inner city that might have changed is how Calgarians perceive it, and that's a good news story.
"The inner city keeps getting better and better," said Onda. "We're seeing massive redevelopment there, with 60 highrises built over the last 20 years and 60 more expected in the next two decades."
With so much happening in the inner city, does it hold a certain cachet for buyers?
"To me it's more the idea that people are increasingly urban focused and wanting to live closer to work," said Francisco Alaniz Uribe, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary.
"They are okay with buying a smaller property as an investment in a shorter commute, less time spent in their vehicle or easier access to top amenities and destinations in Calgary."
Though cachet and convenience are often associated with the inner city, one other "c-word" is worthy of mention: cash.
"Inner-city properties hold their value better than comparable holdings in any other area of the city," said Onda.
"Price points are higher, with a two-bedroom condo going for $400,000 - $600,000, while you can get a brand-new home in suburban areas for the same amount. As the city grows, so will demand for inner-city dwellings, and that's bound to drive up prices."
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