By Robert Frank
“The beltline became a big residential area 35 years ago, because it made more sense than the downtown core,” recalled John Torode. “Now, 1st Street is a nice neighbourhood with restaurants and some fashion retail, with some opportunities for infill.”
Likewise, with people walking more, 17th Avenue on the edge of the beltline has become a major retail node,” he continued, “though there are more restaurants and bars as well now.”
“The population density has grown significantly, driving demand,” Torode added. “There’s an empty city block that, six-to-eight months hence will contain a Walmart, a grocery store, and Canadian Tire outlet.”
“You’re going to see more of that,” he predicted. “More big-box like Best Buy, which set up on 17th Avenue.”
Although most developers have gravitated toward smaller suites, Torode suggested that the market isn’t keeping up with demand for bigger residences.
“They’re discovering that everyone wants bigger ones, so there is a need for large suites, which consequently are trading quickly,” he said.
Torode added that downtown demand for condos is about to spike.
“It’s just a question of Calgarians wrapping their minds around living in a condo, because most haven’t even visited one yet,” he observed. “They might work on the 35th floor of a downtown office tower, but the first time they look out the window of my living room they say ‘Wow, this is something else!’”
“Right now the lowest-density land that you can find has to be five-times coverage, so you have to build something of scale.”
“Densification is going to happen,” he asserted. “A lot will involve parking-lot infill that will beautify the streetscape.
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