Located in Calgary’s exclusive Southwest side, Aspen Woods is one of the newer, hipper neighborhoods in this section of Alberta, Canada.
The area, which locals more often than not refer to simply as Aspen, was established in 2001, along with a few other select neighborhoods nearby. The surrounding communities are decades older.
Its affluence matches that of Calgary, which, according to a report by Calgary Economic Development, in 2015 had the distinction of being home to the most millionaires per capita of any major city in the country. The median income, the report noted, was C$1.57 million (US$1.2 million).
The community, whose population is nearly 8,000, was planned around the stands of Aspen trees from which it gets its name.
Close to the Canadian Rockies, it possesses an alluring city/country vibe.
Its estates area, in particular Aspen Estates, “has become one of the most sought-after communities in all of Calgary,” said Rachelle Starnes, president and CEO of The Starnes Group, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury in Calgary. “It boasts some of the most beautiful homes in Calgary, and amenities over the past five years have grown to be the best in the city.”
Situated on a rise called Signal Hill, Aspen Woods is bounded by 17th Avenue SW on the south, Bow Trail on the north, 101th Street SW on the west and 69th Street SW on the east.
Detached single-family houses with lots of 5,000 to 6,000 square feet start at about C$700,000 (US$532,034) in the lower-priced areas of Aspen Summit and Aspen Meadows, Ms. Starnes said.
Corinne Poffenroth, a real estate associate at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said that the average price in the neighborhood is C$1.1 million (US$835,933). In the estate areas, such as Aspen Heights, the lots are larger—up to one acre in size—and the prices are higher; detached single-family homes typically can command more than C$2 million (US$1.52 million).
“The majority of sales are between C$1 million and C$2 million (US$835,933 to US$1.52 million),” Ms. Poffenroth said. “In 2013, I sold one for C$10.350 million, which was a record not only for Aspen Woods but for the entire City of Calgary. Right now, I have one listed in Aspen Estates, one of the estate areas, for C$10.995 million (US$8.356 million).”A six-bedroom, 4,844-square-foot home in Aspen Estates is currently listed for sale at about $1.98 million.
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Because Aspen Woods was established only 17 years ago, the housing stock is relatively new. Contemporary, transitional and traditional single-family homes comprise 73% of the stock, according to the 2014 Calgary Civic Census. There are pockets of townhouses and villa-style homes. Some of the homes offer commanding views of the mountains.
“There’s a lot of new construction in some of the estate areas, including Aspen Heights,” Ms. Poffenroth said. “New homes in the estates are going for C$3 million to C$6 million” (US$2.28 million to US$4.56 million).
What Makes It Unique
“Aspen Woods has all the amenities of downtown, so you don’t ever have to go there unless you want to,” Ms. Poffenroth said. “It’s only 20 minutes away not only from downtown but also the mountains.”
It’s also a quick commute to the University of Calgary, Foothills Medical Centre, Alberta Children’s Hospital and Chinook Center, which is the city’s largest shopping mall.
Ms. Starnes pointed to the yoga and exercise studios, which she said are among the best in the city, and to “the fabulous walking paths to the boutique shopping areas.”
She said the beauty of the area also is a prime attraction. “The drive through the area is spectacular with consistent high-level architectural guidelines,” she said. “The entrance features for each community include beautiful solid perimeter fences with iron detailing that create an ‘estate’ feel to the area while also providing security and privacy. And there are manicured tree-lined boulevards.”An interior view of a five-bedroom home in Aspen Estate. The property is comprised of two separate titled lots and currently asking for about $8.4 million.
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Aspen Woods has six private or charter schools, which are a prime attraction for the young families who live there: Calgary Academy (grades 2 through 12), Calgary French & International School (a French-immersion school for preschool through grade 12), Calgary Waldorf School (preschool through grade 9), Edge School (kindergarten through grade 12), Rundle Senior High and Webber Academy (junior kindergarten through grade 12).
The family-centric Westside Recreation Centre, which has an aquatic park, wellness center and skate park, is considered one of the best in the city. It is home to North America’s largest leisure ice rink and Canada’s first wellness center for youths.
“In addition to the center, which is a semi-private world-class recreational facility set in the middle of the community, there are several large playgrounds,” Ms. Starnes said.
The Aspen Landing shopping center, designed to look like a village, has 175,000 square feet of retail space and 40,000 square feet of second-floor office space.
Its 68 stores sell everything from baked goods to diamonds. Ms. Starnes’ favorites include DAVIDsTEA, Divine Creations flowers, Kala & Lime gifts, Crave cookies and cupcakes, Mariah ladies boutique and Show Muse designer footwear.
Ms. Starnes emphasized the wide variety of shops outside of the shopping center, which range from A Ladybug Café Bakery & Cafe and the Blush Lane Organic Market. Notable places to eat include the Vin Room wine and tapas bar, the Italian bistro/market Mercato West, and the fine-dining restaurant Redwater Rustic Grille.
Who Lives There
Young families make up most of the population of Aspen Woods. According to the 2011 Census and 2014 Community Profile Figures, residents skew younger than those in the rest of the city. The average age is 32 (it’s 36 in Calgary).
“I live in the neighborhood, and I love being surrounded by young people,” Ms. Poffenroth said.
“There are a lot of oil and gas executives whose names you wouldn’t recognize,” Ms. Poffenroth said. There also are professionals—lawyers and doctors—and some members of the Calgary Flames hockey team.“
Ms. Starnes added that former Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has a home there, as does golfer Stephen Ames.
Calgary is a leader in the gas and oil industries, and although the high-end market of C$2-million-plus (US$1.52 million-plus) prices has softened somewhat because of the downturn in these areas, Ms. Poffenroth remains optimistic. "The fact that Aspen Woods is close to private schools has kept the prices up and consistent through the years,” she said. “And all the amenities are right at your doorstep.”
She added, though, that “the highest sales this year have been C$3 million to C$5 million (US$2.28 million to US$3.8 million), not close to the C$10.995 million (US$8.356 million) listing I have.”
Ms. Starnes expects the market to correct itself, but currently prices are down.
“We are seeing a huge decline in the prices of luxury homes over C$2 million in Calgary and surrounding areas and feel we are at the bottom of the valley,” she said. “We are seeing some of the luxury homes listed over C$2 million selling for 15%-25% less since the peak of 2008. There are huge opportunities for buyers in this current market.”
The cost of building is beginning to exceed the price of buying an older home, so it’s likely re-sales—those built between 1998 and 2016—will increase, she said.