By Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix October 10, 2013 - Tyson McShane isn't surprised at the growing demand for homes in Riversdale.
"It's one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city and it's unbelievable how it languished for so long," he said.
Home prices in Riversdale are increasing at a rapid pace. In the last five years, houses in the area have risen in value at a rate nearly double the city's average. This year marks the first time the average selling price in Riversdale - a neighbourhood long stigmatized for having one of the city's highest crime rates - broke the $200,000 mark.
McShane said he's seen a lot of the bad elements leave, while the good ones - the family homes on his block, for example - stay.
"There hasn't been a gang house on my street in over a year. For the first three years, there was one or two and I would be woken up in the middle of the night by fights. But now they are gone," he said.
The average selling price of homes has increased to $201,152 this year from $172,912 last year, according to real estate agent and analyst Norm Fisher. Three houses in Riversdale have sold at or above $300,000 this year.
Despite the jump in prices, they are still around 60 per cent of what people are paying in other parts of the city.
"Ten years ago, it was, 'I can get a house really cheap out here.' Now, there is willingness from some people to make a serious investment," Fisher said.
He believes the change is fuelled by young professionals looking for an affordable neighbourhood in the heart of the city.
A few blocks from Mc-Shane, Paulette Deon and her young family are completely redoing a house that was once boarded up and dilapidated.
"I think honestly anyone who spends time in the area can see the potential," Deon said.
Her family hopes to move into the completely renovated home, next door to the Farmer's Market, in December. Across the street from her new house, construction is set to begin on a massive 160-unit development by Victoria-based developer Chris LeFevre that will likely push values up even higher.
Poverty advocates have long warned that booming house prices are pushing lower-income people out of the area. Higher housing prices also mean higher rents.
McShane said it's not unrealistic to think Riversdale could one day become as expensive as fashionable and more pricey areas like Nutana and City Park, especially given the renewed interest from outside investors.
"Now, people are coming in from out of town - people like Chris LeFevre - and they are seeing it without any prejudice and seeing the value. That is maybe what is going to put it over the top one day."