Calgary’s East Village Transformation

Going from the ugly stepsister to the belle of the ball takes a lot of makeover magic — and first you need a fairy godmother.

It may not wave a wand around, but the Calgary Municipal Lands Corp. does have a bit of fairy dust up its sleeves.

The independent development company was created in 2007 by the City of Calgary to transform the East Village from a haven for the homeless, drugs and petty crime into a mixed-use community, with arts and cultural venues and a vibrant waterfront.

The fact that the EV sits on 20 hectares that wind around the Bow River in the heart of the city was also a major incentive — can you say: “prime real estate”?

All it took was a vision (aka. the Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan), $150 million in infrastructure improvements and a police crackdown to facilitate the transformation, which has already garnered two mixed-use condo projects and partnerships with the Calgary Arts Development, Cantos Music Foundation and ENMAX District Energy.

Its master plan was the result of an international competition won by renowned British urban design firm British Broadway Malyan.

Besides being the future site of a new Calgary Central Library, the EV will also have free community yoga programs, commissioned international art installments and a block of restaurants, street-level stores, a movie theatre and event space.

Other notables:

East Village Experience Centre
This 8,000-square-foot, $2.4-million facility recently opened and is a hybrid of a visitor and residential development sales centre.

RiverWalk & RiverWalk Plaza
RiverWalk is a wide promenade and cycling path along the Bow and Elbow rivers linking nearby neighbourhoods to the EV. The path will also have a 2,000-seat plaza.

St. Patrick’s Island
Once developed, the 12.5-hectare island will be linked to the EV by a bridge.

Historic Makeover
Back in 1875, EV was downtown Calgary, so the buildings are historic and ripe for makeovers: the Simmons Building will house CMLC offices; the King Eddy will have the National Music Centre; the St. Louis Hotel and the Hillier Block will have new commercial/office tenants; and the 24,000-square-foot Seafood Market will become a workspace for 51 Calgary artists.

For more info visit CMLC or EV Experience.

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Image courtesy of CMLC

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