Calgary’s Red Mile is about to be transformed into the city’s “cool street” in developer Frank Lonardelli’s already unfolding vision.

Lonardelli’s Arlington Street Investments has, over the last three years, purchased 42 buildings along 17th Avenue S.W., with a seven-to-20-year timeframe (depending on the market) for building high-density urban assets.

“We didn’t think we would have a significant impact if we bought just one building,” said Lonardelli. “Our whole business plan was to create real change.”

The 42 buildings between 4th Street and 14th Street S.W. (all bought directly from individual, longtime owners) make up almost one third of the structures along that stretch of 17th Avenue S.W.

“We didn’t think we would have a significant impact if we bought just one building. Our whole business plan was to create real change.” – Frank Lonardelli, Arlington Street Investments

“I used to say 17th could become Calgary’s high street, but that was misinterpreted as an exclusive shopping district,” said Lonardelli. “It is much more than a retail component. Everyone will be comfortable and welcome. Now I just say it will be the cool street.”

There are eight large project sites, with two already under development. Another six are expected to receive land-use approvals in the second quarter of 2019. The post-development value of all the projects is projected at $750 million to $1 billion.

Arlington Street Investments is already retrofitting the National building (with the 17th Ave location of the National bar chain at its base) to achieve an “edgy, elegant, urban feel.” The company will move its own offices into the upstairs space.

Meanwhile, sales have started for The Fifth, adjacent to the National, with 14,000 square feet of mixed-use space topped by 48 urban condos.

Across the street, plans are being developed for the current Fishman’s dry-cleaning site and the buildings behind.

“That makes a concentric circle of influence, each enhancing the profile of the other,” said Lonardelli. “That’s the strategy of a cool street – to control the intersections.”

Lonardelli says 17th currently only caters to those looking for a meal or a drink, but he wants it to be the place to eat, to have coffee, to shop, to visit an art gallery or to live. Current plans also include an 80-100-room boutique hotel, with special events space and rooftop infinity pool.