Following is the viewpoint of Pshebylo, executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District, and Lebrecque, president of the Riversdale Community Association.
There were two items recently in The StarPhoenix that prompted our response. We have decided to let Saskatoon and area in on a little secret that obviously not everyone knows about: Riversdale has changed and is changing for the better.
The story, Hampton area rezoning plan draws criticism (SP, Dec. 21), quotes local resident Joel Anderson saying: "It's hard to say it without sounding a little snobbish. You want to live in an area that equals what your income is, and you don't want to be surrounded by low-income housing. That's why we didn't buy something down in the Riversdale area." He is quite correct that it is hard to say that without sounding a little snobbish.
What needs to be said instead is that commercial property values and residential property values in Riversdale have seen greater increases on a percentage basis than most areas of Saskatoon. While houses south of 20th Street used to be sold for $35,000, the uptake by interested young families who have purchased homes and renovated them near the river and the River Landing site has resulted in homes selling for more than $150,000 to $200,000.
This was unheard of as little as three years ago. It is happening because of community engagement and progressive determination. It is no longer buy to hold; it's buy and develop.
As well, commercial sales and lease rates in Riversdale are attracting small business owners who can buy property for less than they rent elsewhere. Startup businesses see their momentum building with the influx of a new generation of young entrepreneurs.
This area is finally taking its rightful place as the up and coming arts district, the next frontier for business attraction, and the historic neighbourhood of choice to move to with the planned development of River Landing.
Which leads us to further clarify Heather Ross's letter to the editor, City failed market (SP, Dec. 21), in which she says: "The city puts the Farmers' Market in a dying area of Saskatoon."
The public needs to know that this area has a strong heartbeat and a solid pulse.
Dying is not in the vocabulary of the Riversdale Community Association, which has seen impressive attendance at its meetings. Those meetings are dealing with issues of growth and repeated consultation with respect to infill housing, new businesses opening up, and expansion or planned construction within the area. The residents are excited because of what is and will be happening to the area.
The Riversdale Business Improvement District is constantly fielding calls and following up with interested parties of new businesses, and with people who want to buy older buildings and restore them to their former commercial or retail use. It is the first time in more than 20 years that the 300 block of 20th Street West has no vacancies.
Comments such as those printed in the Dec. 21 edition of The SP may have been justified in the last century. For those of us who live and work today in Riversdale, however, it is a pleasure to be part of such a significant positive change to the community.
We just wanted you to know that the secret is out.