When you get right down to it, often it is the list of intangibles that make a city a great place to live.Perhaps that’s why the population in the city of Airdrie, the bedroom community just to the north of Calgary, is swelling.The community boasts a strong entrepreneurial bent and a vibrant hum, along with a connected small-town way of life, brimming with affordable housing options.In spring 2018, it earned a spot as one of the country’s top 10 Smart Cities.It’s one of the fastest growing cities in Alberta and its demographic is young — the median age hovers at 32. In 2018, the population expanded by almost five per cent from the year before, ballooning the headcount to 68,091.“Our population has almost doubled in the last decade. That kind of growth can be challenging to manage, but we’ve been able to maintain the small town feel that attracts people to Airdrie,” says Airdrie’s Mayor Peter Brown.With all of that growth comes the demand for new infrastructure and amenities.The City’s four-year priorities plan tables a series of improvements from a revitalization of the downtown core to a new 40th Avenue interchange and an underpass beneath the railroad tracks on Yankee Valley Boulevard.Thanks to collaboration between the City, Rocky View Schools and Mattamy Homes, a new library, high school and recreation centre are in the planning stages. The project will be located west of south Windsong and south of the future Cobblestone development.Certainly it was the amenities and the City’s small town feeling that captured the hearts of Melissa and Trevor Gibbs.Trevor was born and raised in Airdrie, and recalls the excitement when his hometown rose up the ranks from town to city.“I was in Grade 1. At the time, Airdrie’s population was around 10,000 and it was really big news. We were called Alberta’s friendliest city,” says Trevor, who is now in his 30s.He says that although the population has grown by a factor of seven, not much has changed.“At Airdrie’s heart, it still has that small town vibe.”Melissa is a big city girl who has lived in many large centres, including San Francisco.“It was a big deal for me to give up my condo in Calgary and move to Airdrie. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but it turns out that I really do. It is so quaint. It’s a comfortable, adorable little town,” she says.Last year, the couple, which has a new baby girl, purchased a 1,640-square-foot, three-bedroom corner unit townhome in Mattamy Homes’ The Gates of Hillcrest, a community that is 90 per cent sold. No condo fees, location and an oversized attached double garage were also big attractions.“We really enjoy having the bike paths all around us and there are tons of kids our son’s age on our street. We love that kids watch out the windows for each other and then convene at the playground until it is dark. Reminds us of a time before YouTube and tablets ruled kids’ lives,” says Melissa.Young couples like the Gibbs are fuelling the housing sector, which remained strong in Airdrie last year. Many communities saw an uptick in home sales and have plans for significant new phases in 2019. Between April 2017 and April 2018, 971 new single and multi-family homes were added with the greatest growth occurring in the communities of Hillcrest, Ravenswood and Bayside.Brookfield Residential made its first foray into Airdrie in the spring of 2018 with the launch of Chinook Gate, a 113-acre residential development located adjacent to Chinook Winds Regional Park, a 55-acre parkland space full of outdoor amenities.Brendan McCashin, senior development manager at Brookfield Residential says that increasing interest rates and the new stress test has made the dream of homeownership unattainable for some, but that Airdrie offers the sweet spot of affordability.“You can purchase a new home for $60,000 to $100,000 less that the same new home in Calgary. It’s the best of both worlds, a new home and room to grow at a price within reach,” says McCashin.New phases in the community recently launched with a selection of paired homes, laned homes and front drive garage homes. Builders include Brookfield Residential, Excel Homes and McKee Homes. In the fall, Avalon Master Builder will launch a selection of live/work townhomes.Stefen Vavrek, sales manager for Mattamy Homes, would agree that sales in 2018 were strong in Airdrie, despite a less than robust economy in Calgary.“Sales in Airdrie over the last few years have been very consistent and are fantastic going into 2019. I think that we will see the demand continue through the rest of the year,” says Vavrek.Mattamy Homes is the developer behind Windsong and Southwinds. Urban towns and single-family homes launched in Phase 7 in Southwinds. Phase 8 will be coming online soon, as will a new neighbourhood park geared towards outdoor fitness activities for all ages.Other new communities in Airdrie include Hillcrest, by Apex Land, and Cooper’s Crossing, by WestMark Holdings.Other new development area structure plans in the works for Airdrie include West Hills, a 482-acre primarily residential development west of 24th Street and six quarter sections slated for future industrial development.