University District will be a 200-acre “live, work, play” community that fills a housing gap for the changing demographic in the area. Courtesy West Campus Development Trust

Innovative University District set to fill area housing gap

The concept of an all-in-one community where residents can live, work and play was the inspiration for Calgary’s University District, a comprehensive 200-acre community featuring a mix of residential housing, office space, retail developments, parks and green space.

Under development in northwest Calgary, University District is a community that typifies shifting attitudes about the city’s expansion, says James Robertson, president and CEO of West Campus Development Trust.

“The maturity in Calgary as we start to balance the outward growth with upward growth, and finding the right balance, has created opportunities for communities like University District,” he said.

He says the development is in a prime location near the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre, the future Calgary Cancer Centre and the University of Calgary.

“With all this activity and energy in the northwest, we need to provide a heart to this community,” he said. “We have significant employment, lots of students, great surrounding communities and we need to create a new heart in the northwest –a place for people to go and live.”

He says University District will complement the existing single-family housing that has long been a fixture of the area.

“The University District fills a gap by providing additional housing forms to a changing demographic,” he said.

“We have significant employment, lots of students, great surrounding communities and we need to create a new heart in the northwest –a place for people to go and live.” – James Robertson, West Campus Development Trust CEO

“The continued expansion of the hospital and the growth of employment in this area hasn’t translated into housing forms that appeal to the wide variety of employees that are in these very large professional employment facilities.”

Three projects are already planned or under construction, including Noble, a condo and townhome development by Truman Homes; Ivy, a townhome development by Brookfield Residential; and a 240-unit seniors’ residence called Cambridge Manor.

Robertson says construction will start in January on a Save-On-Foods grocery store and accompanying retail, with a coffee shop, wine store and bank.

“We are very excited about the fact that we’re going to be able to offer that urban-living lifestyle in a very early stage in our development,” he said.

Justin Castelino, marketing manager for Brookfield Residential, says the company was enthusiastic about the concept behind University District.

“(West Campus Development Trust) set forward this vision for a people-oriented community with great amenities and connections to the city, and it was something that Brookfield was very excited to be a part of,” said Castelino. “It’s kind of a global example of sustainable urban development, and the area will truly be a landmark in Calgary.”

He says Ivy is a townhome development with 127 units ranging in size from 1,185 to 1,979, square feet, all with one- or two-car garages.

Ivy’s 17 buildings will use three distinct architectural styles – modern, cubist and traditional brownstone – gathered around a central courtyard with gardens and green space.

Castelino says the lifestyle at the Ivy will be centred around the idea of an urban village.

“Being able to meet friends for coffee, walk to a restaurant for Saturday brunch, experience some good shopping and nightlife right outside your front door, while still being able to walk or ride your bike to work,” he said.

“University District really is this kind of complete community that’s tight knit, that’s connected. It’s a bit cliché, but it really is a ‘live, work, play’ community, all outside your front door.”