Calgary’s inner city Beltline district is about to get a whole new look, and brand new batch of luxury hotels.
The district, which sits just south of downtown between Stampede Park on the east and 14th Street S.W., will soon feature a new look, thanks to the Beltline Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP).
And at least two new hotels are also ticketed for the area, underlining the growing importance of the Beltline as a tourism magnet as well as a residential community.
The ARP, which was approved by the city early this year, includes enhancements such as improved landscaping, boulevards, wider sidewalks and light fixtures, street benches, public art, kiosks, wastebaskets, bicycle racks, pedestrian crossings and bus shelters.
The plan should help the Beltline improve its image, and encourage growth, says Rob Taylor, the president of the community association in the area.
“I believe that the Beltline area could reach a population of between 25,000 to 35,000 by the year 2035,” Taylor said in a recent interview.
“How fast the Beltline grows is up to the appeal of the area to the inner city locations.”
Taylor said the city has a responsibility to encourage this growth by ensuring the Beltline area has a quality environment as well as necessary facilities and services to serve the growing residential population.
“Of the anticipated growth, it is expected that the majority age group would be ages 25-44,” said Taylor. “That age group already represents about 53 per cent of the current population living in the Beltline community.”
Interest in the Beltline is not limited to the city.
At least two new hotels are being planned for the area.
Construction of one, a 124-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, will begin this fall at 239 12th Ave. S.W., near Central Memorial Park.
The hotel, in the existing Park Seville building, should be open for business next year.
The other new hotel will be further east on 12th Avenue, at Macleod Trail S.E. The hotel, to be built by Calgary developer New Urban, will be a Renaissance ClubSport hotel which will feature 200 guest rooms, a 60,000-square-foot fitness centre and 55,000 feet of retail space.
The ClubSport hotel will be adjacent to Stampede Park, and could end up facing another new hotel being contemplated by the Stampede for the same intersection.
Throw in new condominium projects planned for 10th Avenue S.W. west of 4th Street West, and you have a blueprint for a major revival of the Beltline, which hasn’t seen significant change since the economic boom of the late 1970s.
While the district, which lies between the CP Rail mainline on the south edge of downtown, and 17th Avenue South, has always been home to young people just starting out in Calgary, seniors are a significant and growing age group in the area.
Older people currently make up about 16 per cent of the population in the Beltline.
On the other hand, there are very few children living in the district. Kids make up four per cent of the Beltline population and and that figure isn’t expected to increase unless efforts are made to create or provide more family or children oriented facilities and services in the area.
The Beltline is also home to a higher than average population of immigrants due to higher density living and lower costs for rental and other accommodations.
“If affordable housing remains prevalent, the Beltline should continue to be attractive for newcomers as place to live,” said Taylor.
Along with all the improvements, the Beltline is stepping up efforts to battle a continuing problem – graffiti.
Several volunteers have also tackled graffiti during graffiti cleanups in the area.
“It’s vandalism,” said Greg Walapak, a cleanup volunteer. “It’s expensive and illegal.”
For more information on the Beltline Area Redevelopment Plan, click here.