Altadore is one of Calgary’s hottest inner-city communities, and its appeal just keeps on growing, as a stream of new mixed-use condo projects, funky boutiques, grocery stores and fitness centres is rising along the 33rd and 34th Avenue corridors. The new additions stack the deck for a community that’s already known for its quality pubs and restaurants. The coffee shops alone – think Monogram, Phil & Sebastian, Starbucks and, the latest addition, NHBR – are enough to attract the lion’s share of latte-sipping Calgarians on frosty February mornings.
“The communities of Altadore, Marda Loop and South Calgary have so much culture,” said Alkarim Devani, founder of RNDSQR, the developer behind several new projects in the area. “That’s why they are attracting a ton of amazing small businesses. It’s created a lot of vibrancy and people want to be part of that.”
Courtyard 33 by RNDSQR is currently in the development approval process and will provide a prominent architectural gateway at the west end of the 33rd Avenue corridor. “It’s going to be a dramatic landmark that will anchor the western end of the Marda Loop business district,” said Bob van Wegen, executive director of the Marda Loop Business Improvement Area (BIA).
“The communities of Altadore, Marda Loop and South Calgary have so much culture. That’s why they are attracting a ton of amazing small businesses. It’s created a lot of vibrancy and people want to be part of that.” – Alkarim Devani, RNDSQR founder
RNDSQR brought in 5468796 Architecture, a young and innovative firm from Winnipeg that is no stranger to Calgary, having recently launched a project in the city’s East Village. They will design the six-storey, mixed-use building that will feature 14,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The project will also offer 70 condo-style homes ranging from 500 to 1,100 square feet. But the piece de resistance is the design.
“We are carving out the middle of the building to create a central courtyard; we are calling it the neighbourhood living room. We wanted to open up the urban, pedestrian and public realm … we are in some early talks with some businesses that are really excited to be in that courtyard space and have it be this hidden gem, tucked away,” said Devani, adding that leading to the courtyard will be an architecturally significant Spanish staircase.
Sarina Homes founder Naz Virani – whose company is behind Avenue 33, a four-storey, 36-unit mixed-use project that will anchor the east end of 33rd Avenue – says Marda Loop has always been a very special community. He’s a proponent of smart growth, and believes the community is “a great place to set the table for the City’s vision to increase inner-city density, especially by utilizing and activating main streets like the 33rd Avenue corridor.”
Other new kids on the block in Altadore include Strategic Group’s six-storey Marda project and SNR Group’s Infinity-Calgary, a mixed-use, rental housing project with 11,000 square feet of retail space. “All of these mixed-use projects will bring new businesses and new residents to the area,” said van Wegen, noting that one of the goals of the BIA is to infuse the area with vibrancy and life.
As one way to reach that goal, public art is top of mind. Calgary artist Michael Grills from Union Illustration has been commissioned to create a series of designs for new street banners to be placed throughout the district. Marda Loop is also known for its festivals, and the neighbourhood is gearing up for its annual Marda Egg Fest in the spring and summertime Marda Gras Street Festival.
Van Wegen says that with all the transformation occurring in the area, a streetscape master plan may be in the works for the 33rd and 34th Avenue corridors.
There is certainly no doubt that density agrees with the neighbourhood – the area is bustling with life.
“People are grasping to be here,” said Devani.
“In 2018, we will be delivering 50 new townhomes in the Altadore, Marda Loop and South Calgary areas. There is a heavy push to be in these communities, especially for families.”