The Kensington Road NW main street stretches from Crowchild Trail to 10 Street NW through one of Calgary's oldest communities, West Hillhurst.
West Hillhurst was annexed by the City in 1907. The area saw significant housing development after the Second World War. Once part of Calgary's streetcar system, Kensington Road is now home to many well established businesses and unique shops, and has become a destination for both local residents and visitors. The population in West Hillhurst has increased slightly in the past few years and is anticipated to grow more as the community accommodates new commercial and residential developments.
Comments were compiled from the Main Streets public engagement activities which took place from November 2014 through May 2015. The top issues, opportunities and outcomes were ranked in order of consensus and ratings from citizens. This input will be analyzed to inform the planning strategy for each main street.
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What we've heard
Top comments (ranked in order of citizen rating)
- Enhance streetscape/pedestrian environment through redevelopment of North side of street
- Live-work on both sides of Kensington Road NW
- Small, cohesive commercial areas - yoga studios, coffee shops, restaurants etc.
- Include 19th Street as part of the main street
- Poor pedestrian experience along Kensington Road NW from 14th Street to Crowchild Trail
- Bike connectivity to 14th Street
- High quality public realm elements
- Laneway housing
- Need more commercial services and businesses
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What we've learned
To start developing solutions which ensure the future success of Calgary’s main street neighbourhoods, City planners listened and learned from main street users, neighbourhood residents, industry experts and economic specialists to understand the unique challenges and opportunities for growth and development in these areas.
View Kensington Road key findings
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Local statistics and growth targets
Crowchild Trail to 14 Street NW
Growth for this main street area is signifi cantly less than the Municipal Development Plan target. The most relevant factors contributing to this are market desire and consumer preference, which haven’t driven redevelopment. Land use districts (zoning) must be in place to enable redevelopment potential to increase to desired population and employment levels, but strong market interest is a key for fueling new construction. Support from City services and infrastructure can have a positive impact on market demand and will contribute to the evolution of this main street.
14 Street NW to 10 Street NW
Growth for this main street area is close to the Municipal Development Plan desired target. The most relevant factors that narrow this gap are market desire and consumer preference; there is modest market desire to accommodate development at a level similar to Municipal Development Plan goals. Land use districts (zoning) must be in place to enable redevelopment to reach desired population and employment levels. Support from City services and infrastructure can have a positive impact on market demand and will contribute to the evolution of this main street.
Kensington Road NW varies in character on either side of 14th Street NW; it is predominantly low density residential to the west, and a mix of streetfront retail and mixed use character properties to the east. Overall, the redevelopment timing for the western section of this main street is considered medium-term, although there could be some modest development activity in the near term on select sites.
The result is a total of some 1,396 residential units to be built over the next 25 years, starting gradually between 2016 and 2020. Potential for regional draw, character retail and commercial development east of 14 Street NW, but likely only additional commercial and retail opportunities west of 14 Street NW with population growth in the immediate area.
Existing local planning
East of 14 Street NW the 2009 amendments to the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Area Redevelopment Plan support both main street and transit oriented redevelopment, but west of 18 Street NW, in the community of West Hillhurst, there is no local area plan. Without a local area plan, the Municipal Development Plan, as well as relevant transportation policies and guidelines of the Calgary Transportation Plan, should be considered to inform community planning solutions.
Kensington Road NW is one of Calgary’s best-loved destination main streets and the heart of Hillhurst. In broad terms, current zoning does not allow for the density and forms of development set out in the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Area Redevelopment Plan and, if built out, would only just meet the growth targets outlined in the Municipal Development Plan for population and employment. Current zoning allows for mixed use along Kensington Road itself, with apartments to the south and single- or semi-detached homes to the north. Rezoning could allow more flexibility for mixed use redevelopment and allow for growth as specifi ed in the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Area Redevelopment Plan.
The Kensington Road NW main street runs east to west from 10 Street NW to Crowchild Trail NW and spans the communities of Hillhurst and West Hillhurst.
The potential of this area was largely unrecognized until the early 1900s, when the land was annexed by The City of Calgary. The available lots, location, and presence of a street car line and water and sanitation service, made Kensington Road NW highly attractive to settlers.
Residential development mainly occurred along the west side. The diversity and scale of architectural buildings along Kensington Road NW reflects the cultural and economic positions of early settlers. Following the Second World War, many of the earliest residences were demolished and replaced with more modern styles, yet the scale and lot placement of homes remained largely intact. Low-rise apartment blocks also emerged during this time bringing more people to the area.
The earliest commercial blocks were located on the east side of Kensington Road NW, between 10 Street NW and 14 Street NW and contained buildings one to two storeys in height with minimal setback from the street and often with residential suites above. Notable historic buildings that still exist today are the King George Masonic Hall (1926) and the Plaza Theatre (1928).
All of the public input and discussion with experts throughout the project included one common concept; focus the effort of the Main Streets initiative work on a few key or strategic streets in the short term to maximize chances of success. By analysing local input, economic information and infrastructure investments, the Main Streets team indentified which main streets are good candidates for development and growth in the near future.
Once that success has been tested, it will then be applied to main streets across Calgary as the timing for growth makes sense based on the unique needs of each street.
Based on all the information gathered, a series of proposed solutions have been created which would enable growth in main street areas that have been identified as ready for development. To learn more about the areas with rezoning options and Area Development Plan amendments being reviewed and considered for approval in the near future, visit the Main Streets' rezoning information page.
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