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January 01, 2015

Natural beauty

Walden’s close-to-nature approach creates environmental neighbourhood

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

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Walden: A Life in the Woods, a classic work of literature by Henry David Thoreau, is an ode to the wonders of living in a natural setting. Thoreau’s musings may seem to be fairly far removed from what you’d expect from a suburban neighbourhood, but his love of the outdoors and the calm that nature can bring to people’s lives is exactly what inspired Genstar Development in the creation of Walden, a uniquely landscaped community located in Calgary’s southeast.

Filled with a mix of new condos, townhomes, semi-detached, and single-family homes designed to complement their natural surroundings, the homes of Walden are built around several green spaces, including naturalized ponds. Even though the community is relatively new (construction started in 2008), there’s a maturity to the trees and parks that’s rarely seen in such a new community. Patrick Briscoe, Genstar’s Development Manager, says that the neighbourhood was designed around existing trees to maximize that sense of natural retreat.

“The parks and open features were designed around tree stands that were already on the land to begin with,” Briscoe says. “Typically a developer would come in and knock down the trees and plant new trees in their parks, but we worked around them so you get that feel of established trees in a brand new community. You really get that feel of a big natural park setting that you can walk through.”

Genstar aren’t just talking the talk with their dedication to outdoors with Walden — the developer also approached the project with environmentalism and sustainability in mind from its inception. Not only does the neighbourhood have that natural look that’s drawing in homebuyers, but Walden was the first community to hit all 11 of the City of Calgary’s sustainability principals.

Maria Torralba and her family moved into a house in Walden in October of 2014. They chose Walden partially because of the look of the community and its commitment to green principles, but also because of its easy access to the rest of the city. The Torralbas wanted to stay in the SE (they previously lived in another community in the area) and with a clear path to both Mcleod Trail and Stony Trail, Walden seemed like the perfect fit for their family.

“We just fell in love with Walden,” Torralba says. “Number one because of the location — it’s still very near the area that we prefer. Also, the feel of the community and the look of the houses here is quite unique and we were attracted to it right away.”

Briscoe says that even though Walden is located in the developing suburban sector of the south, like Torralba, most residents find it very accessible to and from the rest of Calgary. The Shawnessy C-Train station is nearby for downtown commuters, and as Torralba mentioned, it’s easy to get to major commuter routes (there are also some major engineering firms nearby and many of those company’s employees, as well as health care workers from the South Health Campus, choose Walden for a particularly short commute). Even so, Briscoe says that many homeowners also enjoy that once they’re home at the end of the workday, they don’t have to go too far to get whatever they may need. The Walden Gate shopping centre is home to a number of shops and services, including a major grocery store.

“People can come home, they can do their grocery shopping within their community and all the amenities are right there at their doorstep,” Briscoe says. “They can walk to the Walden Gate and grab a coffee, there’s s Starbucks there, there are banks there, there are restaurants. You don’t have to leave the community after you get there and that has really created a tight-knit community and is really attracting a lot of people to move there.”

Residents can also expect a new, much larger, shopping centre to open in the coming years, something around the scope of the Shawnessy Towne Centre. That 65-acre project on 210 Avenue will be a joint effort between Genstar and West Creek Developments, with construction expected to start in a couple of years.

Many homeowners are already happily living in Walden, but there is still plenty of opportunity for prospective residents to move into a brand new home in the community. In 2014 270 new lots were serviced in the neighbourhood, bringing the developer up to Phase 24 of the project, with 280 additional lots scheduled for 2015 and more new phases planned up to 2018. 2015 will see several show homes opening, including the reintroduction of new starter homes to the community as well as two new townhome projects, one from Avi Urban and one from Rockford Developments.

Active show homes include townhomes in Avi Urban’s Edison project starting in the $330,000s; duplexes from Home by Avi starting in the $360,000s; single-family homes from Homes by Avi starting in the $480,000s; single-family homes from Cardel Homes starting in the $400,000s; single-family homes from Exel starting at $533,000; and a show home from California Homes priced at $850,000. New starter show homes from Exel Homes will open in spring or summer of 2015 and will start in the $390,000s for laned homes and in the $460,000s for homes with a front-drive garage.

That’s a lot of choice and with even more options coming forth later this year, Walden is attracting a vibrant array of people. As it continues to grow, the community really has become the suburban refuge that the development team was inspired to build.

Developer: Genstar Development Co.
Builders: Multi-family from Avi Urban (Rockford Developments coming soon) Move-up homes from Cardel Homes, Centrex Homes, Excel Homes and Homes by Avi Semi-estate homes from Cardel Homes and California Homes
Prices: Check with particular show homes for prices
Directions: South on Macleod Tr. and left at 194 Ave.

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