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March 30, 2011

Downtown delight

Connaught condo perfect place for James to call home

Courtney Allen

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If you think that living right on 12th Avenue would appeal to a single, mid-30s businessman who plays, works and relaxes downtown ... you’re right!

James, a 36-year-old Calgary native who works in marketing for a natural gas company, has worked, and lived, downtown for 11 years now. In fact, it was immediately upon graduating from university that he decided he’d rather spend his money on a mortage than on rent, and bought a condo in The Monaco, a six-storey apartment style condominium on 12th Avenue S.W.

“I love it down here,” says James, who grew up in a northwest Calgary suburb, but now calls the inner city community of Connaught home. “Location is important to me,” he adds. “It’s so convenient to be able to drive 25 minutes maximum to any corner of the city and to my friends’ or family members’ homes.” 

He admits, however, they don’t often make the trek downtown to his humble abode. “Suburbians!” he scoffs. “I always thought I’d have to commute 30 minutes to work, and instead I walk every day. It’s great!” he says, with a big smile on his face, as he points to his view of the 14th Street bridge and the mature trees outside his building. 

James’ condo apartment is a third floor, 764-square-foot, bright space ideal for one, “for now”, he says. It starts with an open concept kitchen with a good sized — soon to be granite-topped — island and lots of counter and cupboard space. The counters are set in warm tones, manly enough for James’ tastes and stylish at the same time, (while not screaming “Bachelor!”).

Moving into the dining room, the decore changes flavours, with maple hardwood floors and dark wood furniture. A nice contrast is made with warm taupe walls and bright white crown mouldings and baseboards — very clean lines, which give a modern feel. James’ budding wine collection is on display here, something he says he hopes to grow in the future. 

The living room is highlighted by a large built-in gas fireplace, the mantle displays pictures of his niece and nephews and a good stock of family portraits. His flat screen TV is mounted above. 

Built in 2000 by Canberra Developments, with an original purchase price of just $143,000 (it’s recently been assessed at $250,000-plus), the condo includes a balcony big enough for a couple of patio chairs, a table for the beer and, of course, every man’s necessity, a barbeque! 

Facing west with a northwest view, the space is very bright, with large, arched windows and a glass patio door to let in an abundance of afternoon sunlight. A laundry room doubles as storage for his sports equipment, mountain bike and squash gear, ensuring James’ active lifestyle is a perfect fit for his one-bedroom home.

A nice sized three-piece bathroom completes the requirements for a good space. The bedroom is the last room in the condo, again with a nice big window and lots of natural light. The 45-degree angle of the window allows for privacy while affording a view of the greenery so well placed in the outdoor courtyard. The decor is simple, yet tasteful, and while James has not had to do any renovating, he did change the original building plans by opting out of a small den with a door, and instead having an open dining room with an architecturally pleasing arch in the ceiling.

“Why sit in a windowless room to do work, when my office is 33 floors up with a view of our beautiful city and the mountains just beyond?,” he explains, “I’d rather have the open space and dining area.” It’s likely the only condo in the building with this feature.

James says the only thing he would change about his space is that he’d love a little more storage, a common refrain amongst condo owners. He’s worked it out well, however, and any extra possessions have either been deemed unnecessary or been relegated to his parent’s place. Not a bad way to simplify, parents willing! He loves that he doesn’t have to shovel and, while yard work wouldn’t be horrible, he’s happy for now not to have to worry about it on a consistent basis. Instead, he concentrates on squash, running and getting the most out of the amenities that living downtown offers him.

Living right at the gateway to corporate downtown, James doesn’t have need of a vehicle on a day-to-day basis. His condo does, however, come complete with a heated parking space. “I wouldn’t give up the underground parking for anything! I love it,” he declares.

His condo fees, of $330 per month, cover this cherished space, which he could not imagine living without, stating that it is nice to have in our chilly Calgary winters for those times when he does have to venture out into the ‘burbs. And for those times when he hits the town, he is mere steps away from Crush, a favourite spot for food and libations, not to mention the number of other desirable haunts just minutes from his door. While the value of his condo has gone up considerably in the 11 years he has owned it, resale is not on his mind just yet. “I can walk to work, to squash, to the river for my run or a bike ride, to the pub to meet the guys, into the core to shop and down the street for breakfast,” he smiles, “What else could I possibly need?”

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