Expanding Campus Borders
If you’re passionate about lifelong learning, classroom access at UCalgary is about to get easier. Behind the blueprints of University District
You’re walking on your way to work along tree-lined University Avenue — once known as West Campus Way. A friend who lives in a modern townhome on nearby Chancellor Robert Thirsk Street waves from her outdoor patio chair. She’s wearing her cycling helmet and has just ordered you a chai latte. Sure, you’ve got time. After all, it’s 2035 and the future is bright.
Today, the lands immediately west of the University of Calgary main campus are mostly greenery, but in in the next few years they’ll start transforming into a thriving community called University District that’s designed to be a 24/7 destination for the city within 20 years.
Revenues from the district will go towards the core teaching and research mission of the university. As the university approaches its 50th anniversary in 2016, there are plans to use the names of chancellors for streets at various locations.
“The University District is designed for all ages and lifestyles,” says James Robertson, president and CEO of the West Campus Development Trust, the land developer. “It will be as much a home for retired empty nesters as it will be for busy professionals and young families.”
The district plan adds more than 6,000 multi-family homes — including townhomes and condos — in a range of price points over the next two decades. All residences would be within a 10-minute walk of a park. The estimated 8.6 million sq. ft. of total development includes 245,000 sq. ft. of retail and 1.5 million sq. ft. of office space, servicing some 11,000 residents.
The area consists of 200 acres (almost 81 hectares) of land bounded by UCalgary’s main campus to the east, 32nd Avenue to the north, Shaganappi Trail to the west and 16th Avenue (Trans-Canada Highway) towards the south.
Since the early 1900s, these lands have been used for agriculture, ranching and various forms of construction. The Province of Alberta gifted a land parcel to the university in 1995. The West Campus Development Trust was created in 2011 to spearhead plans for the future.
Stripping and grading is already underway on some of the land in the district’s northwest. Construction of some residences, retail and offices are expected to start in the next few years — pre-sales for homes may start in 2016 — though plans strongly depend on market conditions. U