A central farmer’s market; a revitalized shopping district; a haven for pedestrians and cyclists – these are just a few of the ideas being suggested for the redevelopment of the western end of downtown Calgary.
Located next to the Bow River, Millennium Park, the central business district and the first stop on the city’s new West LRT line, the community of Downtown West is up for a new area redevelopment plan (ARP) that could help reshape the area.
“It’s an area that’s transitioning from some of the historical uses. There are some car dealerships – some that are in operation and some that aren’t,” said Matt Rockley, planner with City’s Land Use Planning & Policy department. “While the area does have some significant high-density residential development, there’s lots of opportunity for redevelopment in the area also.”
To help gauge just what that redevelopment should entail, the City is gathering public feedback in the form of a website where Calgarians can share their ideas. Having held public meetings, the City launched mydowntownwest.com this month. Since then, community residents have contributed ideas, such as improving the development of local shopping amenities and suggesting options for the future of the old Calgary Planetarium site.
The only downtown neighbourhood without an ARP, Downtown West is part of Calgary’s Centre City, an area bound by the Bow and Elbow rivers to the north and east and 17 Avenue South and 14 Street West. Home to around 35,000 people, the City expects an additional 40,000 residents to call Centre City – which encompasses Eau Claire, Chinatown, East Village, Connaught, Victoria Crossing and the west end – home by 2035.
With just 2,322 people currently living in Downtown West, the potential for growth in the area is apparent, given the City’s focus on established communities and the amenities already in place. Unlike the development taking place in Calgary’s East Village, where years of neglect necessitated a ground-up approach, Downtown West already has plenty of features in place.
“That area has incredible potential,” said Rockley. “The locational attributes of being right along the Bow River immediately adjacent to the central business district where there’s a lot of employment, Mewata Park and that whole open space area is a huge amenity. There are so many great things going for that location and it’s really exciting what the potential could be for the future of the area.”
Calgarians have proposed reimagining the old Science Centre into a downtown farmer’s market similar to Vancouver’s Granville Island, a new children’s art centre and turning the existing parking lot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street S.W. into park space.
There is at least one major project scheduled to begin construction in Downtown West. Named Avenue, the two-tower residential development at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 10th Street S.W. from developers Grosvenor Americas and Cressey Development Group will bring an additional 319 homes to the neighbourhood in the form of 24- and 18-storey tower buildings. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin late this year or early 2014.
Amongst the bevy of new condo developments slated for downtown Calgary in the coming months are Lamb Development Corporation’s 31-storey, 230-unit project 6t h and 10th and The MARK on 10th,Qualex- Landmark’s 35-storey 274-unit project, which is under construction at 901 10 Ave. S.W.
Lamb Development Corporation’s president Brad Lamb said the fact so many projects are moving forward in the city speaks to Calgary’s appeal to both developers and buyers.
“There are things happening,” he said. “If you stand back and look, it’s a developer’s paradise. There’s so much that can happen in this city – it’s exciting.”