Bal­anc­ing act

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Con­dos -

This means lower-rent busi­nesses and res­i­dents will grad­u­ally have to move out — some­thing known even by ’60s ur­ban com­mu­nity ac­tivists like Jane Ja­cobs, au­thor of the Death and Life of Great Amer­i­can Cities.

While many peo­ple want older com­mu­ni­ties to stay the same for­ever, it isn’t go­ing to hap­pen in a city with a healthy down­town.

How­ever, if the down­town is not ro­bust — such as in Win­nipeg, Man., and Hamil­ton, Ont. — you will find that their down­towns, and the sur­round­ing res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties, are strug­gling.

Many build­ings are ei­ther closed or tired-look­ing and in need of re­de­vel­op­ment.

In Win­nipeg’s Ex­change District, the credit for the preser­va­tion of the past is more due to the lack of down­town pros­per­ity than any proac­tive preser­va­tion­ist poli­cies.

The chal­lenge for ev­ery city is to bal­ance pros­per­ity with preser­va­tion. tre or per­haps even fur­ther away — Mont­gomery, For­est Lawn, Bow­ness or Manch­ester.

Cal­gary ac­tu­ally has a pretty good track record of re­vi­tal­iz­ing its in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties.

What I re­ally like about the East Vil­lage plan is that they are go­ing to put his­toric build­ings to new use.

Yes they will be higher end — un­for­tu­nately, the only way to jus­tify the in­vest­ment of new dol­lars is to cre­ate some­thing that will pay mar­ket rents.

The pri­vate sec­tor and the city aren’t in the busi­ness of sub­si­diz­ing the rents of pubs for cheap beer.

Many peo­ple ques­tion if East Vil­lage or the Belt­line will ever be­come the vi­brant ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties promised by plan­ners and de­vel­op­ers just a few years ago.

But I am en­cour­aged that Van­cou­ver de­vel­oper Qualex an­nounced it is go­ing for­ward with its Luna condo devel­op­ment in Cal­gary — the third and fi­nal phase of a three-tower condo project on 12th Av­enue near the new ur­ban vil­lage de­vel­op­ing around the Mid­town Co-op.

I am con­fi­dent the new buy­ers of other failed city cen­tre condo projects — due to re­duced car­ry­ing and con­struc­tion costs — will com­plete th­ese projects in an man­ner that will be at­trac­tive to yup­pie and rup­pie alike.

The same is true for the down­town of­fice mar­ket. The in­crease in sup­ply will drive down rents — and as it did in early 1990s, down­town Cal­gary will once again be able to at­tract new head of­fices. The cup is half full. Ur­ban devel­op­ment is just a con­tin­u­ous se­ries of adap­ta­tions to new mar­kets, ideas and economies.

Yes, the beer may get more ex­pen­sive for awhile, but not to worry. There are al­ways pi­o­neers who find a new neigh­bour­hood to open up a pub with af­ford­able beer.


An artist’s ren­der­ing of the King Ed­die Ho­tel in the re­de­vel­oped East Vil­lage, cen­tre left, which is to be­come the Na­tional Mu­sic Cen­tre.

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