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Calgary's Downtown Dilemma

I do wonder how this compares to other cities. "Downtown Calgary" is actually a massive geographic area (about 2.2 km2, not including the East Village). That is waaaaay bigger than the central business districts of Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. In fact it's almost as big as the entire downtown peninsula in Vancouver, or the entire area of downtown Toronto from Union Station to Bloor, Church to University Ave. I'm going to guess that you can find a comparative number of weird specialty institutional/historical buildings in those cities that are sitting around empty or under utilized waiting for someone to come up with a new use for them.

That said, clearly Downtown Calgary is facing challenges that those other cities do not face. Hopefully at some point down the road we will see some of these empty buildings as important opportunities in the transformation of the area and not a sign of its irreversible decline.
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You're not wrong!
 
Downtown Calgary, including the Beltline and the East Village, is significantly smaller than the downtown peninsula of Vancouver, even when including Fort Calgary and Stampede Park.

Downtown (CBD, Chinatown, Eau Claire, West End, East Village) - 1.8 km2
Beltline (West Connaught, Connaught Centre, Victoria Park, East Victoria Park, Stampede Park) - 2.9 km2

Total Downtown Calgary: 4.7 km, total population 50,000

Downtown (CBD, Coal Harbour, Gastown, Chinatown, Japantown, Yaletown) - 3.8 km2
West End: 2 km2

Total Downtown Vancouver: 5.8 km2, total population 110,000


I generously didn't include Stanley Park or the Downtown East Side for Van, despite including Stampede Park and Fort Calgary in my calculations. Either way, the point is, Calgary's downtown isn't actually that shockingly large, it is just much larger than virtually every other city our size.
 
My main point was comparing the central business districts in terms of geographic area. Here, we can define the CBD as the area dominated by office buildings. In Calgary that would be 2 Ave to the rail line (800m), and 9 St SW to Macleod Trail (1.8km) = 1.44 km2. If you draw a 1800x800m square in the Vancouver peninsula, you get way more than just the areas that are predominantly office buildings. 1.8 km stretches from BC Place up well than more than half way into the West End.

The CBD of Toronto, which has clearer boundaries than Vancouver's is basically Simcoe to Victoria (800m) and Queen to Front (700m) = 0.56 km2.
 
Why Calgary's betting $450M it can convince owners of empty towers to change

City wants to incentivize the owners of downtown towers to change, part of a plan to save hollowed out core


I really don't think this is the way to reduce office vacancies downtown. These vacancies will fill naturally over time without the taxpayer's dime. And 450M could've been spent a whole lot better.
 
Why Calgary's betting $450M it can convince owners of empty towers to change

City wants to incentivize the owners of downtown towers to change, part of a plan to save hollowed out core


Horrible idea. Government never excels at finding innovative solutions to complex problems. The idea of repurposing office buildings to residential is naive. If it made sense, it would already be happening.

At some point the value of those buildings will fall to the point where someone will figure out ways to make them viable. The City needs to wake up and signifcantly adjust its spending levels to the new reality of not being able to milk the cash cow of dt office tower property taxes.
 
I really don't think this is the way to reduce office vacancies downtown. These vacancies will fill naturally over time without the taxpayer's dime. And 450M could've been spent a whole lot better.
They might eventually, fill up, or maybe not. It could go the other way. The problem with leaving it to happen naturally, is if there is even more decline, becomes a spiral of decline, that becomes difficult to turn around. You 'll end up spending that money or more in the end.
 
Horrible idea. Government never excels at finding innovative solutions to complex problems. The idea of repurposing office buildings to residential is naive. If it made sense, it would already be happening.

At some point the value of those buildings will fall to the point where someone will figure out ways to make them viable. The City needs to wake up and signifcantly adjust its spending levels to the new reality of not being able to milk the cash cow of dt office tower property taxes.
If the city had to subsidize converting a couple of building conversions, I'd be okay with that. Make them into affordable housing, or some sort of student housing, etc.. Other uses such as educational facilities etc.. are also being considered.
 
Bit of a radical idea - the City should buy up all of the lands that are between 9 Ave SW and the rail line and convert it to park space. Would be great for the downtown to have a long, contiguous “mini Central Park.

It’ll be tough to get the landowners to sell those lands, but those lands aren’t going to be developed any time soon, and downtown parking lots continue to struggle.
 
Bit of a radical idea - the City should buy up all of the lands that are between 9 Ave SW and the rail line and convert it to park space. Would be great for the downtown to have a long, contiguous “mini Central Park.

It’ll be tough to get the landowners to sell those lands, but those lands aren’t going to be developed any time soon, and downtown parking lots continue to struggle.
If you could convert those parcels into a large contiguous park, you could potentially see a lot of residential development in the immediate area including some development on those parcels south of 9th ave. The ultimate boost for downtown would be if the CP tracks went away. Amazing potential if that ever happened.
 

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