A major development deal has been struck by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation to transform Calgary's East Village.
The $300-million project set for a 2012 groundbreaking will deliver about 700,000 square feet of residential and retail space. Developers hope to have some of the nearly 600 new residential units available a year later.
The downtown neighbourhood — bordered by the Bow River in the north, Ninth Avenue S.E. in the south, Third Street S.E. in the west and the Elbow River in the east — hasn't seen a substantial development in nearly a decade.
"When we first started here, it was 15 blocks of desolate wasteland, couple of abandoned buildings, old streets that hadn't been looked after, some dying trees," said CMLC president Chris Ollenberger, whose organization was created by the city to help revitalize the area.
"Our stage was to prepare the land and get it ready, and then go and find the right partners to work with us to develop our master plan. Now the developers have actually bought into that master plan. They think it's a great sales tool. They think it's a great plan and they're investing in it."
The project by B.C.-based Bosa Development Corporation and Embassy Development Corporation will represent about 15 per cent of the available land in East Village.
Embassy president Ryan Bosa said he realizes the area has negative connotations for many Calgarians.
"I challenge those people to take a drive around here right now, and it will change their mind and it will change their beliefs," said Bosa. "Come into CMLC's headquarters and take a look at some of the renderings, and you'll become a believer immediately."
He said he's excited about the project, which will take place in three phases over the course of five or six years.
"It's almost untouched," said Bosa. "You can define what the area's going to look like."
Ollenberger said this is just the first step and that the CMLC is in conversations with other parties about developing different parcels of land.
When the entire East Village project is complete, the city expects the 120-acre area will be home to more than 11,000 residents.