First breaking ground in 2008, the reviltalization of Calgary’s “newest, oldest” community is now beginning to come to completion. Recently welcoming the area’s first new occupant, the area is eventually expected to welcome more than 11,000 Calgarians to what was once one of the city’s most notorious neighbourhoods.
CREB®Now takes a look at the rebirth of the neighbourhood, how it came to be, and what it will become.
The site of Calgary’s first Northwest Mounted Police detachment, which would later become Fort Calgary, East Village was originally the centre of a then-fledgling Calgary. Later falling into decline, the area would be largely neglected, with the city’s medical officer declaring it “skid row” in 1941. With various revitalization projects failing to take hold, the community would remain a blight on the city until the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s (CMLC) revitalization project began in 2008.
At a cost of $357-million, revitalizing the 20-hectare site along the banks of the Bow River required installing all new infrastructure, which included raising the floodplain in some areas by as much as four feet. Streets were paves, sidewalks laid and new sewer and water pipes installed. With much of the neighbourhood a blank slate, the 103-year old Simmons Building would remain as CMLC’s temporary headquarters.
Along with the restoration of the Simmons Building, which has now been transformed into a culinary hotspot, projects already completed in the community include the newly opened 12.5-hectare St. Patrick’s Island, the 2-km RiverWalk, the East Village Experience Centre (EVEC) and St. Patrick’s Bridge, while construction on Calgary’s new $168-million National Music Centre (set to open next spring) is nearly complete.
With a host of events scheduled to showcase the ongoing development, Calgarians can justify a trip downtown. Aside from special events such as Opera in the Village and Market Collective, the EVEC hosts several fitness events throughout the week. Boasting a public beach, BBQ pits and children’s park, St. Patrick’s Island seems to have something planned for nearly every night of the week, including a free fly fishing workshop on Sept. 19.
Having already attracted $2.4 billion of planned development, projects set to break ground in East Village include a Loblaws Supermarket, a 28-storey residential rental complex from Cidex Developments Ltd called The Hat and two boutique hotels. Calgary’s new $245-million Central Library, located across from City Hall, will open in 2018. Providing approximately 240,000 square feet feet of usable library space – 66 per cent more than the existing downtown library – the new library will be home to approximately 600,000 books.