Once there was an old-fashioned, pedestrian-friendly street near downtown – so near that I assumed it had been redeveloped years ago. It would have gone the way of the streetcar tracks that still graced a couple of east downtown roads in my childhood.
But 11th Street S.W. isn’t dead, it’s alive in the Beltline, linking downtown with 17th Avenue S.W.
Eleventh Street provides pedestrian access to the neighbourhood, says Stan Turner, past president of Connaught Community, which forms the Beltline with neighbouring Victoria Park.
“There is every sort of business, residence and service amenity you want in the Beltline,” he says.
|Developments in Calgary's Beltline include a home-office project called the Paserium, above.|
Ian Fawcett of the Calgary planning department says the area from the CPR tracks to 12th Avenue S. is a transition zone from the high commercial density of the downtown core to the high residential density south of 12th Avenue. The city is doing planning studies this year or early 2003 on the “South Downtown” area.
New projects are going in such as the city’s redevelopment of the old Co-Op site at 1st Street and 11th Avenue S.E., and the new IBM Building farther west. Other older buildings have been renovated in the area.
There is also a market for lower intensity and commercial uses in the computer and telecom industries, he says, citing IBM and other software companies. An IBM spokeswoman says the company expects to move in to its campus-style offices between 11th and 12th Avenues in June.
Another proposed development in the area is for an office-home concept, combining business and residential uses.
The Paserium, at 6th Street and 11th Avenue S.W., will have two commercial floors, with two-storey loft condos above. The ground floor will be retail, the second floor offices and the third floor will accommodate condos designed for home-based businesses.
The south side of downtown could get a development boost from the city’s plans for the old Co-Op site, says project manager Ian Wilson of the corporate properties department.
Corporate properties is doing a master plan for the site, with an educational institution plus high-rise affordable housing as one of the options being considered. The housing could be private sector, with some apartments subsidized and some at market rates.
|IBM will build a new office, illustrated above, in Calgary's Beltline.|
“We see it as a destination development,” says Wilson. “It could kick-start development in the area.”
Meanwhile, part of 11th Avenue S.W. has evolved into a shopping area, becoming a home-fashion district with such stores as Chintz & Co. and Robert Sweep, says Mike Kehoe, broker-principal at Fairfield Commercial Real Estate. The retail sector is driven by the Calgary economy, and the shopping is heavy in all sectors.
“We haven’t seen a slowdown in three years. It (the slowdown) is an eastern-driven media phenomenon,” he says. “There’s no sign of it on the street here.” When it comes to development, Turner says the community doesn’t care how tall the buildings are, but it’s militant about street-friendliness. Things such as a small grocery store or cafe would enhance the residential component of the area.
He says the group would like a rule that everyone in the area with a car has to have a parking spot inside their building. There are currently more street-parking permits than spots in the neighbourhood.
As a community in the core, the Beltline has a development vision. Its density helps the city’s growth problems, since the Beltline can have 1,000 homes in a block instead of 20 or 30, and a lot of residents who want to keep it clean and safe.
A common real estate database will let researchers add more value to the information they provide to real estate brokerages.
Four large real estate firms announced recently that they will form a joint national database by the end of the year. The Commercial Real Estate Exchange, C-REX, will be owned equally by Royal LePage Commercial Inc., CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International and J.J. Barnicke Ltd.
Information provided by C-REX will include property, vacancy, transaction and occupancy data, new inventory, vacancy and absorption rates for office, industrial and retail real estate for major Canadian business centres.
C-REX will start in Toronto and spread to the rest of the country, say local researchers.
There will still be brokers and researchers in each market doing the analysis of the data, says Mike Gigliuk, research director for CB Richard Ellis in Calgary. “I don’t feel it will overlap,” adds Carla Fedele, research director at Royal LePage in Calgary. “It will make the job better.”
The competitive edge in real estate is brokers’ knowledge of the market. Rob McElhoes at Colliers International says the new system will give researchers more time to analyse data and forecast markets – the value-added parts of their work.