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The Value of Calgary’s Heritage Commercial Areas

We are striving to bring better tools and resources that support heritage conservation and the repurposing of heritage resources on Calgary’s commercial streets. The City retained a consulting team of Lemay, and specialized consultants Heritage Strategies International, Altus Group, and CBRE to undertake a multi-phase heritage analysis, focused on commercial streets. 

Four commercial areas were selected – portions of Downtown Core/Stephen Avenue, Inglewood/Ramsay, Beltline/Victoria Park and Kensington. For comparison purposes, four comparable non-heritage areas were selected and used where appropriate within this report – Marda Loop, Mission, 17th Avenue and Bridgeland.

Phase one

Our phase one study focuses on measuring the Heritage Value of historical commercial streets in comparison to non-heritage areas. In alignment with Council Policy and to develop a complete understanding of the monetized value of the identified heritage commercial areas, the Triple Bottom Line approach was used for the investigation. Its analysis considered the Economic, Social and Environmental values of these areas.

Heritage areas display a significant monetized value, with the aggregate triple bottom line value of all four areas is more than $900M. Report highlights include:


  • Heritage characteristics adds an average of $36.60 per square foot when compared to similar, non-heritage properties.
  • The economic heritage premium was found to be more than $44M, and the lift to surrounding non-heritage properties (Heritage Halo) was found to be more than $57M. 
  • The heritage areas studied attracted significantly higher numbers of key industries, including knowledge and creative class businesses. These are exactly the kind of industries that contribute to the diversified economy that Calgary seeks to build.


  • Calgarians value heritage areas. The social value of the study areas was found to be more than $80M.
  • Streetscapes where heritage properties are lost or have their heritage character severely degraded lose context and, therefore, value.


  • The greenest building is already built. The study areas were found to have a monetized environmental value of nearly $49M.

Read our Phase 1 report – Heritage Value Analysis and Conservation Tool Development Focused on Commercial Streets

Phase two

The Heritage Value Analysis and Conservation Tool Development Focused on Commercial Streets Report recommends tools and incentives to facilitate the ongoing maintenance and conservation of Calgary's commercial heritage areas. These recommendations stem from engagement sessions with interested parties, including heritage building owners, property managers, and community members. This report was prepared by Lemay, with support from Heritage Strategies International, Altus Group, and CBRE Canada.

The Heritage Value Analysis and Conservation Tool Development Focused on Commercial Streets study builds upon the key findings of Phase 1. In 2021, The City of Calgary initiated a comprehensive heritage analysis of the four commercial areas with remaining concentrations of heritage assets – Kensington, Stephen Avenue, Beltline, and Inglewood/Ramsay – to determine the triple-bottom-line value of these areas. The initial study showcased that the value of heritage buildings extends far beyond traditional assessments, demonstrating that heritage buildings in these areas experience an economic premium, contributing significant economic, social, and environmental value to the city. The financial benefit also extends to non-heritage buildings within or near these heritage zones, creating an economic "halo effect." Socially, most Calgarians expressed a willingness to pay to maintain these areas, with a calculated social value exceeding $80 million. The environmental value, including embodied energy and carbon costs, was estimated at nearly $49 million. The total triple-bottom-line monetary value of these four areas was found to be more than $900 million.


The recommendations aim to address various challenges related to heritage conservation identified through engagement, best practice and professional advice, including financial constraints, environmental standards, property maintenance, and land use planning and regulatory challenges. The tools and incentives proposed align with UNESCO's framework and are labelled based on their feasibility and complexity of implementation. The report provides a matrix of recommendations, categorizing them as suited for current or future implementation and ranking their complexity, effectiveness, cost, and likelihood of acceptance by interested parties. The tools are categorized by four areas of focus:

  1. Financial tools;
  2. Regulatory tools;
  3. Community engagement tools; and,
  4. Knowledge and planning tools.

A detailed description for each tool can be found on pages 7 – 40 and feature examples of their use elsewhere and symbols indicating ease, effectiveness, or complexity of implementation.

Next Steps:

Moving forward, the conservation of historic resources is positioned as a public benefit extending beyond individual properties. This report will inform future recommendations for policy tools and public investment in heritage, highlighting that heritage buildings offer diverse values benefiting surrounding property owners, tenants, taxing entities, tourists, the public, and future generations. Providing incentives to private property owners for rehabilitating heritage buildings is seen as a strategic approach to support triple-bottom-line values, contributing to a more significant public benefit with a high return on investment. This Report sets the stage for the City of Calgary to consider and potentially implement these recommendations, fostering its commercial heritage areas through continued preservation and enhancement.

Read our Phase 2 report - Heritage Value Analysis and Conservation Tool Development

This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​