The new University District will become a 200-acre community of mixed residential, commercial and public spaces.

These are exciting times for James Robertson as he watches the massive University District mixed-use development rise from the ground in northwest Calgary.

As president and chief executive officer of West Campus Development Trust, which is spearheading the impressive project, Robertson proudly points to some recent accomplishments as a clear indication that this proposal is now well on its way and not just a grandiose plan.

A roadway off of Shaganappi Trail N.W., leading directly to the site, opened at the beginning of December, providing easier access. A Discovery Centre opens March 11, which will include a 3,000-square-foot information area about the project as well as two areas that are 1,000-square-feet to serve as sales centres and show suites for builders Truman and Brookfield Residential.

The idea for this project has been around for more than 10 years.

‘‘The Trust actually got moving on this project about halfway through 2012. We’ve been going at it hard, moving forward with everything from design and visioning and approvals, and now into tendering and construction,’’ said Robertson.

‘‘We’re building a community here. It’s a large community at the end of the day. These things don’t occur overnight and take a lot of input from a lot of people. All very valuable input,” added Robertson.

“As we move through these moments, we cross over the next hurdle, or make the next milestone, it’s very exciting for us. And that’s why we’re pretty excited about this Discovery Centre because we’re now moving from a vision to what is going to be here, to people can now buy in this community and live here. That’s a very exciting transition for us.”

It’s one thing to design on paper. It’s another thing to start seeing people buy houses and houses start to get built,’’ said Robertson.

Officials say University District is a bold new vision for life in the city. A 200-acre community with diverse housing, office and retail space, as well as parks and public realms.

Located at 32nd Avenue N.W. and Shaganappi Trail, the project will include 40 acres of open space, 8.7 million square feet of buildable area, 200,000 square feet of ground floor retail along nine blocks, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and 15,000 residents and jobs.

Complete urban living and close to various amenities that include the University of Calgary, Market Mall, Foothills Medical Centre, the Alberta Children’s Hospital, McMahon Stadium, Winsport and a great transportation network.

As we move through these moments, we cross over the next hurdle, or make the next milestone, it’s very exciting for us.

The West Campus Development Trust is an independent organization created by the University of Calgary to oversee the development of the University District.

Noble by Truman and IVY by Brookfield Residential are the two residential developments in phase one of the project. Noble will have 136 units – 36 townhomes and 100 apartment-style condominiums. IVY will have 127 townhouses. Construction on both is scheduled to start first thing in the spring. Initial occupancy is expected to be early 2018.

Ryan Moon, director of business development, Calgary homes, for Brookfield Residential, says the company has a very strong focus on creating a sense of community and a sense of belonging.

‘‘These values really aligned with the West Campus Development Trust and the community that is University District. We feel that we’re bringing stylish townhomes at an affordable price point to the inner-city market,” said Moon.

We feel that we’re bringing stylish townhomes at an affordable price point to the inner-city market.

Robertson said University District is currently in the process of tackling phases two and three. The second phase includes a main street for the site on University Avenue which will be anchored by a grocery store. A hotel is also included in this phase.

‘‘All of our retail has residential above it. So in phase two we’ll be announcing more residential but it will occur above the retail,’’ added Robertson.

A future third phase is focused on providing senior residential development.

Robertson said University District has a site in mind for office development, but right now given the economic climate in the commercial real estate market that aspect is not a focus of attention.

The University District Discovery Centre will be located at 4410 University Ave. N.W. It will be a central hub for community connections where visitors can meet, learn and experience all things University District – the history, the vision, the amenities, future retail plans, interactive displays, upcoming events and homes available within the community. Open Tuesday to Friday 2-8 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 12-5 p.m. Closed Mondays.