Shopping communities within communities popping up all over Calgary
All over Calgary, a trend has begun.
Communities that once would’ve used a simple strip mall to provide residents with amenities are increasingly turning retail offerings into miniature town centres, plazas and High Streets, creating communities within communities.
Brookfield Residential recently announced its southeast community of Seton would be throwing their hat in the power strip pile, with plans for more than 800,000 square feet of retail space.
The community has broken down its shopping offerings into the Regional Retail District focusing on medium-to-larger format retailers; the Design District focusing on home décor and fashion boutiques, and Market Street, based in the core of the community with an “eclectic mix” of specialty shops, boutiques, cafes and more.
The new development in Seton is just a small piece of Calgary’s bustling retail pie. Earlier this year a report from global research consultants CBRE said Calgary’s retail market continues to outperform other Canadian centres fueled by record in-migration, low unemployment and a young population with high disposable income. In the second quarter of this year, retail sales increased 4.4 per cent.
Retail consultant Ed Strapagiel projects Canada’s total retail sales for the year at more than $500 billion, with Alberta coming in at about $79 million or 34 per cent higher than the national average.
“That’s super attractive to retailers,” he said. “Calgary’s 2014 population is about 34 per cent of the province …. That would put Calgary at about $26.9 billion for the years, but it’s probably a little higher because there’s more money in Calgary than other parts of Alberta. So that retail sales per capita are likely higher still than the provincial average.”
All over Calgary, retail projects allowing residents from various communities to live, play and shop within a stone’s throw from their front step – like Seton – are under construction or in the planning process.
In late April, CREB®Now reported development plans for Currie Barracks in the southwest, including commercial space of 750,000 square feet and 30-storey residential towers.
“There’s always been the expectation for more retail and leisure than was in the plan at Garrison Woods and a higher density of residential development,” said Doug Cassidy, vice-president of real estate, Western Region for Canada Lands Company, which, along with Embassy BOSA and Urban Design Associates, are behind the venture.
“Given the size of the community – it’s almost a (80-hectare) parcel of land – it’s an opportunity to create a true city within a city.”
The City of Calgary held an open house Oct. 28, to gather further public input on the project to take to council.
In the northeast, Deerfoot Mall, the prototypical shopping centre of the 1980s, is about to undergo a transformation into a “master-planned, regional urban centre, with features including a pedestrian-friendly network of outdoor streets and plazas interspersed with indoor comforts”, according to developers Shape Properties.
“There’s an underlying energy and attitude in Calgary that is somewhat unique in Canada. It’s aspirational, it’s ‘Can do’, it’s social,” said Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice president for Shape Properties.
“With this, I believe that developing a new urban centre outside of the downtown, that provides a vibrant, social engaging lifestyle setting will be well received. Given the property’s central location that is easily accessible from the entire city, the new Deerfoot will be an amenity for the city as a whole.”
Deerfoot City would bring some competition for Calgary’s Chinook Mall, which, in 2012, earned $1,090 in retail per square foot. After a 2010 expansion of 180,000 square feet at a cost of $277 million, the 1.4-million square-foot mall has welcomed heavy hitters such as Burberry, Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co. In June 2013, further expansion of the mall was proposed for the parking area on Macleod Trail and Glenmore Drive.
While some new retail offerings are welcomed, others have caused concern for residents in surrounding communities. In the northwest, a proposed development for East Paskapoo Slopes is currently being reviewed by the City.
In late September, a City review reported the main public feedback concerned whether development should occur on the site at all, leaving it in its natural state; setting parts of the land aside as environmental reserve; the stability of the land considering it’s topography that includes several springs and streams; visual impacts of buildings proposed up to 50 metres tall, and the effect on recreational trails.
Also in the northwest, residents have expressed concerns surrounding a proposed development of Stadium Shopping Centre.
Developers have plans to transform the 1960’s era strip mall into a multi-storey plaza including retail, offices, restaurants and more. City of Calgary engagement on the proposed shopping centre began Dec. 2012.
Main concerns, released in an April 2013 report, included traffic, density, building height and safety of school children while there was support for a pedestrian bridge connecting the plaza to Foothills Hospital. In June 2013, council voted 14-1 for developers to put together a master plan to create the new mixed-use development.