The 1 Avenue NE main street, stretching from Edmonton Trail to 10 Street NE, is located within the historic community of Bridgeland.
During Calgary's first population boom in the 1880s, a significant number of Russian-German immigrants moved to this community, formerly known as Riverside. By the early 1900s, many Italians and Ukrainians had moved to the area and Bridgeland became popularly known as "Little Italy." This inner city community was incorporated as a village in 1903 and then annexed to Calgary in 1910. The demolition of the Calgary General Hospital in 1998 spurred intense redevelopment in the area.
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)
- Connect 1 Avenue to the Bow River bike path, the Zoo and Science Centre
- More places to sit outside and eat food
- Increase walkability to nearby areas
- Loss of green space due to redevelopment of school grounds
- Dark and feels unsafe at night walking to train
- More traffic calming measures for pedestrian safety
- Community gathering
- Small town feel
- High quality street feel
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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.
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Local statistics and growth targets
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.
1 Avenue NE accounts for just under 2,600 homes, or about 0.56% of the Calgary housing inventory. 1 Avenue NE has a higher than average share of multifamily units, especially in low-rise apartments and detached duplexes. The housing stock is considerably older than the city wide average, with homes likely to have been built before 1960. Given the historic and inner-city nature of this corridor, the overall age of its housing stock suggests that many units may be reaching the end of their lifecycle and may be ready for redevelopment. The result is a total demand for 868 residential units expected to be built over the next 25 years. Growth, in Bridgeland, is partly evidenced by the spike in the fraction of homes built since 2006.
1 Avenue NE has about 88,000 square feet of office space accounting for about 0.11% of the city wide inventory. The current vacancy is 1.4%. Additional commercial and retail opportunities will be mostly driven by population growth in the immediate area.
Existing local planning
1 Avenue NE is the main street of the community of Bridgeland/Riverside. The current Bridgeland/Riverside Area Redevelopment Plan was approved in 1980 with a significant change and amendments in 2002 by the Bow Valley Centre Concept Plan that support redevelopment of the former hospital land. The Bridgeland/Riverside Area Redevelopment Plan provides policy that promotes and encourages the success and growth of the commercial area along this main street and aims to maintain this as a key part of the community. The built form-scale policy within the Bridgeland/Riverside Area Redevelopment Plan matches the current surrounding low density residential districts.
While the southern side of the street has seen significant change as a result of the redevelopment of the former General Hospital, the north side has not seen much activity in new development. Current zoning, if built out, would not allow for population and employment numbers to meet the growth targets outlined in the Municipal Development Plan. Current zoning could also be a significant barrier to mixed use projects on the north side in particular. Rezoning could allow greater flexibility for mixed use, apartment, or row or townhouse style development and allow for more apartment housing choices and business locations for Bridgeland.
The 1 Avenue NE main street runs between Edmonton Trail and 10 Street NE and is located in the northeast community of Bridgeland-Riverside. The street is set on top of a steep plain that overlooks the north and east ends of downtown Calgary.
The character of 1 Avenue NE is largely influenced by the immigrant groups who settled in the area at the turn of the 20th Century. The area south of 1 Avenue NE was once known as ‘Germantown’ for the influx of German emigrants from Russia in the late 1800s. The area was later named Riverside for its river location.
In 1909, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Land Department filed the Bridgeland subdivisions, where the first small wave of Calgary’s ethnic Italians settled. The Frederick Olmsted firm was commissioned to design a garden suburb on the sloping terrain, which resulted in the area’s distinctive views. A second influx of Italians in 1920 found employment with nearby industrial employers and also settled in Bridgeland.
Italian restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores continued to grow and peaked in the 1980s, earning 1 Avenue the nickname, Little Italy. In the early 1990s, plans were made to give 1 Avenue NE a European Village feel, by preserving specialty retail shops at street level and European cultural elements such as signage, flags and murals.
Today, the streets surrounding 1 Avenue NE reflect the area’s working class roots and consist of modest, one to two storey Edwardian style cottages and bungalows. A number of historic institutional buildings also exist on 1 Avenue NE like the Riverside Bungalow School No.2 and the Bridgeland Baptist Church, as well as a historic pattern of storefront retail at street level.