New hotel remains a priority for Calgary's entertainment district

A new hotel for Calgary's culture and entertainment district remains on the radar for the agency overseeing the development of the area.

With many projects underway, CMLC says more work coming

Several projects, including the planning of a new hotel, are currently on the go in the Victoria Park area of downtown Calgary. (CMLC)

A new hotel for Calgary's culture and entertainment district remains on the radar for the agency overseeing the development of the area, but there's still no word on a prospective partner for the project, nor is there a timeline.

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) made its annual presentation to city council on Tuesday, updating the elected officials on its activities.

President and CEO Kate Thompson said a hotel remains a priority among the numerous developments planned in the area of Victoria Park. 

"A hotel is a really big part of the district. It complements the BMO expansion and the overall entertainment district so CMLC has been working hand in hand with the Calgary Stampede on the prospect of bringing a hotel to the area," said Thompson.

Work in progress

CMLC started soliciting bids for a hotel back in early 2019. 

Thompson said the economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc on the hotel industry, but that CMLC was making progress on finding a development partner for the proposed site on 12th Avenue S.E., near the BMO Centre.

"The ideal goal would be to have a hotel delivered as soon as possible to align with the opening of the BMO," she said.

The red rectangle denotes the location for the proposed hotel, according to CMLC documents. (Submitted by the City of Calgary)

Construction of the $500-million expansion of the BMO Centre is underway and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

That project is just one of several construction sites currently on the go around Stampede Park. 

CMLC is overseeing the expansion of the BMO Centre as well as the rebuilding of the Stampede LRT station.

The Stampede will soon kick-off construction of the SAM Centre, a year-round destination exhibiting the history of the outdoor event.

The city has also begun underground utility relocation work on 12th Avenue S.E. in preparation for construction of the Green Line LRT project.

Questions still remain about a possible new arena for the area that would replace the Saddledome, a keystone project for both the district and the success of a potential new hotel, said Thompson.

Has to be built

Coun. Dan McLean said a hotel should be ready to go when the BMO Centre expansion opens its doors because convention delegates would want to stay close to the meetings they'll be in Calgary to attend.

"Is there any way of accelerating that? We know that has to be built. We need rooms for the BMO to be successful. Or do we have to wait for the rest of these puzzle pieces to come together?" asked McLean on Tuesday.

Thompson could offer no firm timeline for a hotel announcement, but said she does expect to have an update later this year on another key element of the entertainment district — Stampede Trail.

The development permit for the new retail street, brought forward by the Calgary Stampede, has been submitted, said Thompson.

It's a part of the Stampede's plan to help make Victoria Park a year-round destination.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has worked for CBC News in a number of roles in several provinces. He's been a legislative reporter, a news reader, an assignment editor and a national reporter. When not at Calgary's city hall, it's still all politics, all the time.