RE­BIRTH: No stone un­turned

Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Con­dos -

East Vil­lage’s bound­aries are the Bow River to the north; Third Street S.E. to the west (and up to Macleod Trail closer to the river); the El­bow River to the east (in­clud­ing Fort Calgary); and 9th Av­enue S.E. to the south.

“We’ve spent the last year with our board and con­sul­tants to as­sem­ble and over­plan East Vil­lage, mak­ing sure no stone is un­turned,” says Ol­len­berger. “We want to de­velop it into a co­he­sive place res­i­dents want to see and want to live in. The re­sult is the re­cently-un­veiled mas­ter plan.

“We wanted to re­spect the char­ac­ter of East Vil­lage and its con­text within the city. It needed to be flex­i­ble to re­act to mar­ket changes and it needed a qual­ity pub­lic realm, which we have al­ready been work­ing on.”

As part of the East Vil­lage pro­ject, an ar­chi­tec­tural firm was re­cently ap­pointed to de­sign the Na­tional Mu­sic Cen­tre — part of the re­de­vel­op­ment of the old King Ed­ward Ho­tel, new home of the Can­tos Mu­sic Foun­da­tion. A call is out as well for pro­pos­als for a pedes­trian bridge that will con­nect East Vil­lage with St. Pa­trick’s Is­land, home of the Calgary Zoo.

Other guid­ing prin­ci­ples in the mas­ter plan in­clude:

“Room to breathe” for the ar­chi­tec­ture to al­low di­ver­sity of hous­ing types, says Ol­len­berger. “We’ll fo­cus more on midrise apart­ments, rather than high­rises like the Belt­line,” he says. “In­stead of re­stric­tions, we’ll al­low di­ver­sity with guide­lines. In time, it will look like a true vil­lage.”

A di­ag­o­nal pedes­trian street in the core that cuts through the heart of East Vil­lage from 4th Street to 8th Av­enue S.E. to the river. “With the King Eddie pro­posal, we wanted con­ve­nient and quick pedes­trian streets and a river walk,” says Ol­len­berger.

Ease of move­ment through­out the vil­lage. A goal will be com­bin­ing pedes­trian thor­ough­fares with “ac­com­mo­dat­ing ve­hi­cles,” says Ol­len­berger.

Cre­at­ing a sus­tain­able com­mu­nity. “We are on a large brown­field site, so there is much re­me­di­a­tion to be done and our goal is sus­tain­abil­ity,” he says.

About 12 blocks are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion, with land be­ing raised as much as 2.5 me­tres above the flood plain level.

The in­fra­struc­ture up­grades, es­ti­mated to be in the $200 mil­lion range, are be­ing funded in a new way for Calgary — tax-in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing where the city pays up front, re­coup­ing its in­vest­ment when the up­grades at­tract new de­vel­op­ment and in­creased prop­erty taxes.

“We’ve had in­ter­est from a num­ber of builders and de­vel­op­ers who see this as an ex­cit­ing new ven­ture for Calgary — a few from Calgary and oth­ers from places like Toronto and Van­cou­ver, who have had a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence with this type of de­vel­op­ment,” says Ol­len­berger.

“I think we will see some in­ter­est from U.S. de­vel­op­ers, too, and even those out­side North Amer­ica. But by far, Cana­dian de­vel­op­ers have shown the most in­ter­est.”

One of the lo­cal builders is Homes by Avi, which in­cludes an Avi Ur­ban divi­sion that spe­cial­izes in condo de­vel­op­ments.

The com­pany has also been in­volved in The Bridges, another in­ner-city pro­ject spear­headed by the city on the site of the de­mol­ished Calgary Gen­eral Hospi­tal just across the Bow River from East Vil­lage.

“There is huge po­ten­tial (in East Vil­lage) with a river­side com­mu­nity right in the cen­tral core,” says Char­ron Un­gar, who heads up the multi-fam­ily divi­sion of Homes by Avi. “We’d like to see more in­sti­tu­tional in­ter­ests there, such as a learn­ing fa­cil­ity, but we’re look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture, ab­so­lutely.”

Homes by Avi has some hold­ings in the area. The Calgary Mu­nic­i­pal Land Corp. con­trols about half of the land in East Vil­lage, with the rest un­der di­verse pri­vate own­er­ship.

The whole in­ner city re­vi­tal­iza­tion is hap­pen­ing — and city hall is to be com­mended, says Un­gar.

“The city has rec­og­nized the huge po­ten­tial in the city core and they are mak­ing a strong ef­fort to re­de­velop it,” he says.

“I think that will pay off in a few years. The pub­lic realm is grow­ing, but not only that.

“The pri­vate sec­tor is putting money into de­vel­op­ment, even in a tough econ­omy, and that’s hav­ing a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the city, cre­at­ing op­tions for hous­ing and where to live.

“East Vil­lage will see an amaz­ing de­vel­op­ment and re­de­vel­op­ment of park space. It’s in­no­va­tive progress like that which truly sets our city apart.”

Calgary Her­ald Archive

An artist’s ren­der­ing of some of the green space in the East Vil­lage re­de­vel­op­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.