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St. Albert charmed Isabelle Poirier and her husband, Eric Van Lochem.
So did its community of Riverside, and when they made their decision to buy their first Alberta home, it was more or less St. Albert or bust.
Originally unsure if they’d be staying in the province — Van Lochem took a work transfer to Edmonton in 2018 — the couple bided their time, rented, started a family and came to the conclusion that they were happy here. That led to house hunting, and they explored Edmonton and beyond.
“As soon as I visited St. Albert, I knew I was going to move here,” said Poirier, originally from Moncton, N.B. “It reminds me of where I grew up.”
It also resonated with Van Lochem, who grew up in southwestern Ontario.
“It just stuck out in our minds as the place we thought we would like to live,” said Van Lochem, noting that if they tried to talk themselves out of it, they always kept coming back to it. “We would always think, wow, this is such a nice place to live!”
While they debated between a new build or an existing home, Van Lochem said Riverside made the decision easy for them as the houses are affordable and close to virtually everything in the community. It’s a short drive to St. Albert’s downtown core and minutes to St. Albert Trail and its shopping and services.
On top of that, the family credits Riverside’s developer, Genstar, for the greenspace. The community, just off Ray Gibbon Drive and intersected by McKenney Avenue (with development on each side of the avenue), includes access to 145 acres of lush forest, extensive parklands and walking trails by being close to Lois Hole Provincial Park and Big Lake.
“You literally don’t need to leave St. Albert if you don’t want to,” said Poirier.
Once Poirier and Van Lochem zeroed in on Riverside, they soon narrowed down their choice of eight builders in the community to one: Parkwood Master Builder.
Parkwood’s Paxton, one of its newer home models, fit their needs and desires. They wanted a home with an open-to-above space, something in the 1,800-square-foot range, and a place that would be their forever home.
“We’re only buying one house,” said Poirier.
The Paxton, said Lionel Hertlein, Parkwood’s area sales manager for Riverside and West Secord, offers 1,817 square feet with a soaring 18-foot ceiling in the great room, a primary retreat with a full five-piece ensuite and direct access from the walk-in closet to the laundry room. A two-storey house, it’s home to three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. There’s also a large kitchen island with an eating bar and a cozy dining nook off the kitchen.
“A fantastic feature,” added Hertlein, “is the ability to build a private outdoor oasis sheltered from the dining nook all while maintaining a spacious backyard for the kids and pets to roam.”
The couple, and their daughter Charlotte, moved in early this year.
“The floor plan was perfect, it was exactly what we were looking for,” said Poirier. And while they did make a few upgrades, including a coffered ceiling in the dining area to add some character, they didn’t feel the need go overboard in making changes.
There are a lot of standard features that might have been upgrades with other builders, said Van Lochem.
Design wise, Poirier said they went for a modern farmhouse style with a look reminiscent of Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn that’s neutral — there’s a lot of white — clean, and accented by lots of greenery.
“We’re super happy about our house,” said Poirier, adding they love the neighbourhood and that it’s amazing how much it has been built up since the beginning of the year and how many young families with kids are nearby. “We have no family here, so it’s really important to be in an area where there are young families with kids.”
Parkwood is currently building front-attached garage homes in Riverside, with prices ranging from around $480,000 for a 1,520-sqaure-foot, three-bedroom home to larger estate homes — 2,800 square feet with triple-car garages, starting around the $830,000 range on a walk-out pond-backing lot.
“One of our more popular homes is the Alexandria, offering 2,300 square feet with four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms and a secondary spice kitchen, starting around the $590,000 range,” said Hertlein.
“We love Riverside for its proximity to nature, located adjacent to the Sturgeon River, Red Willow Park and Grey Nuns White Spruce Park,” added Hertlein. “Located on the western edge of St. Albert you have convenient access from Ray Gibbon and Anthony Henday, along with being minutes to central St. Albert and Mark Messier Trail. Shopping amenities are now open, within walking distance and anchored by Co-Op along with Tim Hortons and Subway.”