The 17 Avenue SE main street stretches from 26 Street to 60 Street SE and is located in the communities of Southview, Albert Park/Radisson Heights and Forest Lawn.
The area surrounding 17 Avenue SE was first settled in the early 1900s as part of the Municipal District of Shepard. Later, in 1934, Forest Lawn incorporated as a village, and finally annexed to Calgary in 1961. Today this family friendly neighbourhood has a diverse selection of shopping and services. The 17 Avenue main street plays many important roles: as the original main street of the Forest Lawn community, as a secondary highway with regional connections, as a culturally diverse hub dubbed International Avenue and as part of Calgary's envisioned primary transit and cycling networks.
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 17 Avenue SE key findings
View full report of what we’ve learned
Local statistics and growth targets
Growth for this main street area is significantly 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.
It is expected that approximately 1,794 residential units will be built over the next 25 years, starting gradually between 2016 and 2020 and gradually increasing. Over the past four years, over 32.5% of new units built in this area have been apartments. This trend toward multifamily development is expected to continue. Many sites along 17 Avenue SE have potential for larger scale projects including short to medium-term opportunity for residential, office and retail development.
Existing local planning
17 Avenue SE has a recent local planning policy in the form of the Southeast 17 Corridor: Land Use and Urban Design Concept, which was approved by City Council in 2010. The process for engagement, policy creation and internal City of Calgary review was directed by the goals and objectives of the Municipal Development Plan. The plan is mostly limited to parcels that front 17 Avenue SE, so no policy direction was provided to address
the development transition into the lower density residential communities adjacent to the main street. No land use district (rezoning) followed the plan approval, so the limited amount of redevelopment has happened and not yet enabled the redesign of the roadway to improve the streetscape.
17 Avenue SE is intended to be an urban main street, serving the local neighbourhood as well as being a city wide destination. Current zoning does not match up with the City Council approved Southeast 17 Corridor: and, if built-out, would not allow for development to reach the growth targets outlined in the Municipal Development Plan for population and employment. The existing zoning allows for a variety of mixed and commercial uses along 17 Avenue SE, with some transitional apartment uses largely to the north, but poses challenges for row house and townhouse development. Rezoning would allow for greater flexibility for mixed use development along the main street as well as more housing options for the surrounding community and population to support International Avenue businesses.
The 17 Avenue SE main street, also known as International Avenue, runs through the southeast neighborhoods of Albert Park, Southview, Forest Lawn and Forest Lawn Industrial, Penbrooke Estates, and Red Carpet. The street is characterized by low rise commercial development, like strip malls and ethnic restaurants to the west, with multi-residential buildings and light industrial located in the east.
The street is symbolic of early historical development in the area when, in 1914, a train line was built from Tofield to Calgary with a station constructed at the east end of 17 Avenue SE. Promoters began purchasing land for subdivision within Albert Park and Forest Lawn and many of the original subdivided lots remain intact today.
Until the 1950s, 17 Avenue SE was the primary transportation route in the east out of Calgary, until the Trans-Canada Highway was constructed. The street was designed as a thoroughfare with no parking and business access from the street, except for a few pockets of angled parking, which is a rare feature in Calgary.
Commercial development followed along 17 Avenue SE to support a rapidly growing population in the post-Second World War period. Today, neon and backlit signage along with modest commercial buildings in mid-century, modern-styles reflect the history of the area.