The golden streets of Terwillegar Towne are narrower than most and the houses much nearer the sidewalks.
The front verandas are built so close, neighbours can exchange barbecued morsels by a lean over the railing and a slight flick of the wrist.
It’s a heaven that can be seen as claustrophobic if the desire to move to the suburbs includes seclusion, because in this Towne, community interaction is part of the landscape.
|Kenton Friesen photos, Business Edge|
|Homes are closer than in most suburbs, and walking is easy on the community pathways|
“It’s definitely a love-it-or-hate-it type atmosphere with the neo- traditional communities,” says Shaun Cranston, senior development manager for Carma in Edmonton.
“It’s a certain type of person who is attracted to it.”
That person doesn’t fit into a neat demographic, but rather possesses a certain mindset.
Cranston says Carma has purposely satisfied all the different stages of home ownership, from starter homes to move-ups and empty nesters, allowing consumers who are in love with the community to meet their lifestyle changes with a simple move up the block.
Prices vary correspondingly from the low $130,000s to nearly half a million dollars. The development, near the junction of Terwillegar Drive and 23rd Avenue, is the introduction of the neo-traditional planning concept to the Edmonton market, though Carma tested the waters with McKenzie Towne in Calgary.
The Towne plan originated from classically designed small-town U.S.A. McKenzie Towne is a much bigger model, with a final capacity of 18,000 people residing in four separately styled villages encircling a town square that’s anchored by a Garden Market IGA.
Retail and commercial space are also in the works for Terwillegar, though none exist yet.
There is provision to allow room for “the butcher, the baker, the drug store, the doctor, the whole works,” says Cranston.
The stores and services will be located in easy walking distance of the entire community, adding to the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
Walking paths wind throughout the neighbourhood, leading footgoers through pocket parks, by the lake and on to children’s playgrounds.
Carma began the development process in 1994, broke ground in late 1996 and began the first stage of 104 homes one year later.
“Since then, the whole concept has caught on like wildfire with the purchasing public,” says Cranston.
There are currently close to 1,500 people living in the community, nearly half way to the target number for the 350-acre parcel of land.
Construction is constant, pushing out into waiting farm land.
Sales in the niche community have averaged 150 single-family home sales per year, stacking up well against other top-producing developments in the greater Edmonton region.
Terwillegar Towne is the only suburban development lauded by the City of Edmonton’s recently released intensification audit.
The audit, which takes a critical look at urban land use, praises the Towne for its increased housing options (including multi-family units and potential walk-up apartments) and the walkability of the neighbourhood.
The signs say ‘20 km/hr max’ at the entrances to the back lanes - a necessary feature to accommodate the detached garages.
Putting the garages in the back leaves the facade of the house in charge out front, adding to the small-town feel.
The two-storey houses rising off the sidewalks leave a row-house type impression, but, on closer inspection, variety is the predominant factor.
Scalloped vinyl gable siding, rough-hewn log timbers and a variety of brick and stonework give some streets a gingerbread house feel.
Even the string of look-alike duplexes show a jazzy side with a menagerie of exterior door colours.
Cranston says the close-knit development style is actually more costly to develop than more standard subdivisions, thanks to the grid-street system, public spaces and paved alleys.
But the payoff comes from many residents’ dedication to the community and commitment to making it vibrant.
It’s closeness by design.