CMLC and Calgary Stampede Partner on Major Development Opportunity in East Victoria Park
Together with Calgary’s most enduring entertainment organization, CMLC gets busy planning another vital dimension of Calgary’s emerging Cultural & Entertainment District
Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is on a mission. Again.
As it leads the effort to transform downtown Calgary’s east end into one of the city’s most exciting and inviting destinations, CMLC is determined to bring the same energy, appeal and investment to east Victoria Park that its redevelopment and placemaking strategies over the past 12 years have injected into neighbouring East Village.
“Since 2007, when we embraced the challenge to redevelop and revitalize downtown Calgary’s east end, CMLC has transformed East Village into a vibrant, liveable neighbourhood by implementing the City of Calgary’s 2007 Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan and the East Village Master Plan that we developed in 2009,” says Michael Brown, President & CEO, CMLC. “To help make downtown Calgary much more liveable—and loveable—CMLC tackled the East Village challenge first by completing the major infrastructure upgrades necessary to attract meaningful private investment. We then forged relationships with key residential and commercial developer partners and made strategic land sales to bring the master-plan vision to life, all while managing the creation of community gathering spots like St. Patrick’s Island and the construction of landmark projects like the new Central Library.
“Now, with our shareholder’s approval of our Rivers District Master Plan, we can begin the infrastructure programs pivotal to our plan to transform east Victoria Park into Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment District.”
Crafted by CMLC in 2017/18 and approved by CMLC’s shareholder, the City of Calgary, in December 2018, the Rivers District Master Plan (RDMP) articulates a vision and a plan for building on east Victoria Park’s foundation as the city’s Culture and Entertainment District. In east Victoria Park, CMLC’s focus will range from underground utility upgrades, streetscape improvements, and parks and open spaces—all integral to creating a compelling sense of place—to important ‘mega-projects’ like the planned expansion of Calgary’s BMO Centre.
It’s the public infrastructure improvements, Brown emphasizes, that catalyse the private sector investment and development so crucial to success. For proof, he points back toward East Village: since 2007, CMLC’s commitment of $396 million to East Village infrastructure improvements has attracted approximately $3 billion of planned investment here in Calgary.
Key to CMLC’s success are the organization’s big-picture land acquisition and sales strategy and its hands-on, highly collaborative approach to working with landowners, developers and other stakeholders to transform a master-plan vision into reality.
The most recent case in point: CMLC recently inked a marketing agreement with Calgary Stampede and will lead the marketing and development strategy of Stampede-owned lands for mixed-use development opportunities crucial to realizing the vision articulated in the Rivers District Master Plan.
“Just as Calgary Public Library sought out CMLC’s expertise in project management, development and placemaking for Calgary’s new Central Library, Calgary Stampede—whose site and facilities are integral to our vision for the Rivers District—has enlisted CMLC to apply our expertise in inner-city mixed-use development on its behalf. This project involves a significant portion of land within the district—approximately 30 acres south of 12th Avenue SE around the entry to Stampede Park—and Calgary Stampede’s vote of confidence in our team for this significant opportunity is a testament to the quality of the work we’ve done to revitalize downtown Calgary’s east end—first in East Village and now in the broader Rivers District.”
Under its agreement with Calgary Stampede, one of CMLC’s first tasks is to secure a hotel development partner to support the needs of the planned BMO Centre expansion. CMLC has issued a Request for Proposals to undertake discussions with qualified prospects and secure a partner for the site.
“We have worked closely with CMLC over the past two years to ensure the aspirations of the Rivers District Master Plan align with the community’s vision for Stampede Park. This comprehensive strategic vision is a catalyst to move the District and the city forward,” says Warren Connell, CEO, Calgary Stampede. “This agreement creates an immediate opportunity to bring the master plan to life by attracting the calibre of private investment partners the District needs today.”
While working with Calgary Stampede to make the most of this vital development opportunity, CMLC will keep moving forward with the infrastructure and public space development initiatives now in their detailed planning stages.
Even as it shifts its primary focus to east Victoria Park, CMLC will continue to steward the many projects still in progress on the East Village side of the tracks. In 2019, these will include new retail openings; advancement of its work on the 4th Street SE and 9th Avenue SE cycle tracks; grand opening of East Village’s first residential rental project, The Hat; continued construction of the 9th Avenue SE Parkade and Platform Innovation Centre; the final year of construction of RioCan’s urban retail centre at 5th&THIRD; and completion of XYC Design + Development’s riverfront mixed-use project next to the Simmons Warehouse Building…all while planning and coordinating another robust calendar of neighbourhood programs and community events.