But, despite predictions of disaster, the 1980s and 1990s have produced hopeful signs of continued recovery of the Edmonton real estate market from that recession. The average selling price has since reached a high in 1994 of $112,501; but the effects of government downsizing once again pushed prices down in 1995, when the average price was $110,577 at year end. The sales volume also set records early in the 1990s, peaking in 1992 with 12,772 residential sales. Edmonton's population also continued to grow, reaching 626,999 by 1993.
Other signs of recovery are the new projects and upgrades valued at about $3 billion planned for the oil sands industry. As well, the ongoing development of the downtown core indicates economic recovery. New additions include the Eaton's Centre and a convention centre. In September 1991 a new Edmonton Journal Building was opened, replacing an earlier structure built in 1921. In 1993 Alberta College opened Phase One of its new Alberta College campus. This facility has a 250-seat music recital hall, 22 classrooms, and 17 music studios. The college was established in 1903.
The civic centre, begun in the 1950s, was completed in the 1990s with the addition of the Winspear Centre for Music scheduled for opening in 1997. The single most important private donor to the project is Francis Winspear, after whom the building is named. Twelve years of fundraising for its construction and to determine its location were necessary. A new city hall was opened in 1992 to replace the one built in 1956. The new city hall features a plaza that functions as a wading pool in summer and as a skating rink in the winter. Another outstanding feature of the building is a 200-foot (61 metres) $1 million tower with a 40,000 pound (18,160 kilograms), 23 bell carillon that can play up to 99 melodies.
In addition to new buildings, one of Edmonton's landmarks from the pre-World War One boom was restored to its former beauty. The Hotel Macdonald addition, opened in 1953, was demolished, and the original portion completed in 1916 was restored. The restored Hotel Macdonald opened for business in 1991.
The redevelopment of the former site of the Canadian National Railways yards was also undertaken. A new downtown campus for Grant MacEwan Community college was opened on the site in 1993. The new campus provided space for 60 classrooms, 21 computer labs, 40 instruction labs and other facilities.
Pilot Sound and the Lake District were two new developments during this era. Pilot Sound is a 2,300 acre subdivision in the northeast. Its neighbourhoods are all named after famous aviators. Hollick-Kenyon flew a single-engine plane 2,200 miles across the Antarctic. Matt Berry was one of Edmonton's earlier bush pilots.
The Lake district begun in 1979 continued with the creation of the neighbourhoods of Klarvatten (Swedish for clear water) and Ozerna (Ukrainian for lake area). Water is the theme in this development. Artificial lakes have been created and the neighbourhoods have names associated with water.
A much smaller development is the new district of Dunvegan into which the first residents moved in 1993. It was developed on the former site of the railway yards and depot for the Edmonton Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway Company. This railway later became the Northern Alberta Railway that was acquired by CN Rail in 1981.
The AgriCom, officially opened in 1984, was one of the new additions to the Exhibition grounds. The first event was a trade show and cultural exhibition held by the People's Republic of China.
This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.