New developments can aid in vibrancy and evolution of established communities

In building a city, there comes a time when old needs to make way for new in the name of progress.

Yet a growing number of local builders say they are not yet ready to give up on Calgary’s rich past, suggesting many often-overlooked historical areas of the city are ripe with opportunities.

Cardel Inner City community sales manager Mark Edruhn notes that for the last two-and-a-half years, his division has been focusing on products within Calgary’s established communities – and with great success.

“[It’s] to meet demand from consumers who were looking to live closer to their work, to be near fully established amenities and to have drastically reduced commute times, while still enjoying all the space, design, features and efficiencies that new homes have to offer,” he said.

The appeal of creating newer properties in established neighbourhoods is a way of giving consumers what they want, where they want while replacing older homes that may be nearing the
end of their life cycle, added Adruhn.

“It’s urban redevelopment one property at a time,” he said.

Cardel is not alone. Attainable Homes Calgary is currently developing a project in Mount Pleasant just off 16th Avenue N.E. The four-storey building with outdoor courtyard will be joining many homes built when the community was first established in 1912.

“I strongly … think it’s important that we help reintroduce and rejuvenate and change older neighbourhoods that are evolving and changing in different ways from the way they were when they were originally laid out,” said Attainable Homes Calgary president and CEO David Watson, who was formerly a planner with the City of Calgary.

Attainable Homes is a nonprofit organization helping middle-income Calgarians purchase homes of their own.

The Beltline, meanwhile, is one of the fastest growing communities in Calgary, according to the 2014 civic census – ironically joining the suburban likes of Saddleridge, Auburn Bay, Cranston, Skyview Ranch, Evanston, Panorama Hills and Aspen Woods.

The Beltline welcomed 1,091 additional residents over the past year. In the last five years, the community has seen consistent inmigration, growing to 21,357 from 18,902 in 2010.

New condos coming to the area include Mark on 10th and The Park on 13th Avenue – which will rub elbows with heritage buildings such as Barnhart, Congress and Moxam.

The two co-exist thanks to a City of Calgary guideline called the Heritage Density Transfer that allows owners of evaluated historic resources to transfer unused density on their property to other sites to legally protect a building or site.

The City allows the density to be transferred to a property owned by the same landowner or to another landowner in the downtown area.

“One of those things is certainly that we want new developments not to mimic old,” said David Down, co-ordinator of urban design and heritage for the City of Calgary. “You’ll see, quite often, attempts to mimic historic buildings, and we would rather see respect shown for the history more by accentuating it through contrast rather than mimicking.

“So the best way for a building designer or building owner to celebrate adjacent heritage is to do some really high quality development next to it.”