PAST YEAR HAD RAYS OF LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Multiple developments across the city are promising as we head into a new year
My 2019 year-end column gave hopes for a strong 2020. Who would have imagined the changes that would hit us a couple of months later? But, despite the terrible attack by COVID-19, there were many positive things to report on.
The illustration for last year's Dec. 30 column was of the proposed Marriott Autograph Collection and Courtyard by Marriott Hotel to be built downtown on 5th Avenue S.W. The hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit, yet a start was made on the PBA Group of Companies' $110-million development, and last time I drove by, the Dorian Hotel was up to at least the eighth floor of its 27-storey height.
Unfortunately, the slowdown of business saw the transfer of two of our most popular hoteliers. Arjun Channa, manager of the Westin Calgary, has escaped the winter by moving to the
U.S. Virgin Islands as general manager of the Ritz-carlton,
St. Thomas, and Sunny Joseph departed from the Fairmont Palliser Hotel for Seattle as the new general manager of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
Our short summers are tough for those who organize outdoor events and golf course owners had to be very creative in finding ways of organizing tournaments this year.
The good folks at Stewart Creek were able to set up food stations on the driving range to accommodate the 13th annual Remington Golf Classic in August that raised another $375,000 for the Prostate Cancer Centre. The weather responded successfully, but didn't help my golf game as my partner Ron Kurczaba and I were awarded a splendid prize for being dead last.
Many Calgary news stories this year centred around the abundance of office space in the downtown, creating not only a problem for owners and city tax coffers, but also a poor image to the rest of the country.
Bad publicity meant a slowdown in real estate investment. One would have thought that city hall would have responded in a much better way than increasing industrial taxes, which will drive more companies to choose the Balzac area just outside of city limits as a place to set up business. A drive around the area east of Crossiron Mills shopping centre shows incredible growth that Rocky View County can be very proud of.
A lively downtown is so important for this city and fortunately, the number of highrise residential towers currently under construction will help retailers and restaurant/entertainment businesses find new customers.
The most positive news for me was to report on was so much progress regarding the growth of this city as a tech hub and the number of companies that have made the decision to make the east area of downtown their corporate homes.
This year has also seen lots of activity in suburban multi-family residential construction, much of it in large new developments such as West District by Truman Homes on 85th Street S.W. and several developers have been busy building in University District. Truman, Homes by Avi, Brookfield Residential, Gracorp Properties and the Brenda Strafford Foundation are all bringing people to the exciting project that has also attracted a number of retailers and a cinema to the area.
Driving west out of the city, you need to watch changing lanes and speed limits among the humongous construction project that will one day link up with Stoney Trail.
But do take a quick peek at the progress at Greenwich by Melcor where more residences are being offered by Cove Properties, Landmark Homes and Madison Avenue Group.
Another development that I was pleased to be able to learn more about and report on was Taza Development's villages on Tsuut'ina lands. What a visionary master plan that while honouring the land, will bring significant economic impact to the Nation.
Despite council's love of the bicycle, we are still an automobile city and more dealerships are staking a claim to the area on the west side that runs alongside Stoney Trail.
In the space remaining, I must stick to annual tradition and remind whoever took responsibility to take care of the former York Hotel facade that was promised a new life when it was taken down across the street from the new Telus Sky tower that we haven't forgotten.
Have confidence in this coming year — be healthy and happy.