“The heart of the matter” will take on exciting new meaning when it comes to Central Park – the heart of Calgary’s sprawling University District. Kicking off development with a late-October groundbreaking, the three-acre park will be a dazzling green space for the community that lies just west of the University of Calgary, overlooking the Bow River and Rocky Mountains.
Maureen Henderson, director of marketing and communications for West Campus Development Trust (the developer of University District), explains that while the dynamic and innovative area will feature 300,000 square feet of retail across nine blocks and 1.5 million square feet of office space, it is master planned to be a highly-walkable community.
Beyond the amenities on site, the 200-acre University District is surrounded by the University of Calgary’s main campus, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre and McMahon Stadium. It’s also a quick drive to Market Mall.
At the fall preview for Central Park, West Campus Development Trust confirmed that a 38,000-square-foot Save-On-Foods grocery store and pharmacy will be part of the retail space on the street level of a future mixed-use building, with 288 residential rental units above. Another exciting University District “big win” is the confirmation of Cineplex VIP Theatres as part of phase 2 of the retail plan.
And Central Park, scheduled for a summer 2022 completion, will likely be the focal point showpiece, designed with people and enjoyment in mind. “It will be a four-season gathering place for social events, activities, shopping, relaxing and interacting in a modern and welcoming space. There will be a staging area for concerts, a picnic area with tables and barbecue pits, a water fountain, a central plaza lined with street-level retailers and quaint cafés,” Henderson adds, “with terrific play features for all ages, patio space, public washrooms and showers for bike commuters, a winter skating rink with a cooling system, a public plaza and underground parking.”
While the strategy, planning and design of Central Park is state of the art, Henderson points out the primary purpose is to create a usable, practical and enjoyable people place. “With the various landmark features, it will be the perfect home for virtually every kind of Calgary special event. From picnics, performances, fitness challenges, summer markets, ice skating, a stroll along the pathways on a warm summer night or cycling through the colourful changing leaves in the fall.
“With a combination of retailers, open space and a staging area, it will be a natural gathering area in the heart of the community,” she notes. “Interactive features will engage people while functional amenities such as facilities for commuters will encourage everyday usage.”
Henderson adds that West Campus Development Trust is working closely with local talent, specifically to create exciting features within the park space, including Calgary’s own Heavy Industries that will bring a creative placement element to life within the park.
“Of course architecture and design are vital,” she emphasizes with pride. “But we will maintain our focus about creating a connection and a gathering place for Calgary residents and visitors to rest, relax and take in the community.”