The growing trend of mixed-use developments in Calgary

With good design and exciting projects underway, commercial real estate development stakeholders say there will continue to be a market in Calgary’s ever-expanding multi-use sector.

Remington Development Corporation’s Quarry Park is an excellent model of a “true mixed-use development” in Calgary as people reside, work, shop and relax within one community. This development was exemplified many times in the Growing Trend in Mixed-Use Developments session at the Calgary Real Estate Forum on October 24.

Imperial Oil’s head office also recently made a move from their high-rise downtown to the suburban Quarry Park. At their new location, the economic advantage for the company was clear: employees’ gas costs were much lower, parking costs dropped and office space was substantially lower.

The emerging trend in Calgary and similarly in Houston is the move away from high-rises to horizontal spaces for work and other uses, such as on-site spas, gyms and coffee shops.

Remington Developments, 200 Quarry Park Blv SE, Calgary, AB LEED Gold Building

Another example of a mixed-use trend is Calgary’s hotel/residential combination depicted at Hotel Arts, Calgary’s Landmark Boutique Hotel. For business and pleasure they offer a travel experience of luxury, art, service and cuisine. Panelists say there are many individuals who like the services of a hotel and think it’s a lifestyle we see more and more of.

The Waterfront was also cited as an excellent mixed-use project. This project has been redefining what it means to live a contemporary, urban lifestyle in Calgary’s downtown core where Prince’s Island Park meets Chinatown. As the single largest condominium development in Calgary at over a million square feet, Waterfront will offer 21,000 square feet of retail amenities to serve 1,000 residential units.

Hotel Arts, Calgary’s Landmark Boutique Hotel

Despite all the improvements in life, new challenges still present themselves in mixed-use developments. For instance, ambient noise from loud air conditioning units can be hard sometimes for residents to get used to. Some residents and retailers may also end up at odds about noise, parking and priorities. An obvious need in these developments is to allow flexibility among everyone involved, panelists pointed out.

“[Mixed-use developments] are alive all the time,” said Bob Tattle, Vice President of Development at Anthem Properties. “Residential customers have to buy in. It’s a marketing thing too.”

By comparison, Vancouver has more mixed-use development than Calgary or Edmonton, said Tattle. He cautioned stakeholders to be cognizant about challenges such as rising costs such as condo fees and operating expenses.

Tattle continued that in Edmonton, you need room in parking areas for people driving F-150’s. While in Vancouver, there is little snow in the winter. Meanwhile, Calgary’s LRT was referenced as restricting parking by 50 per cent in the downtown core.

Tattle additionally cautioned about having too much density within a city, which can lead to a lack of affordability and deter projects going forward.

“Density does not mean profit,” said Tattle. “As developers, business owners and planners we all must remember that we have to sell or use that density, you can’t just add more.”

In terms of best examples in of mixed-use developments in North American cities, San Diego was noted to be the best example from the U.S., where a lot of the city’s outskirts have been revitalized.

Despite Toronto’s rapid rise of condos, Vancouver and Calgary were said to be the best models for Canada.

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