The motto of my life ... "EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON".
What started off as a mad dash to the East Village Experience Centre for the 4:15pm SURFSET class with Mallory Chapman (owner, Studio Revolution) turned into yet another education and validation that my decision to buy a condo in the East Village was the RIGHT one!
Kim, one of the EV Ambassadors, was waiting for me at the door when I came in knowing he had to deliver bad news, "You're here for the SURFSET class, right? Well, I'm sorry to tell you this but it's cancelled due to Stampede. But ... don't worry it will be back next week!". A bit disappointed that I came all the way from the south for the class, but a girl with a glass is half full mindset, I contemplated a run along the RiverWalk down to the Saddledome. As I was checking my gym bag for running gear I caught myself listening to Kim as he was taking Caroline and Jack through a tour of the East Village (with laser pointer in hand). Although I had been to the EV Experience Centre many times of the past three weeks I have never listened to the EV Ambassadors as they guided visitors through the architectural model of the 45 acre East Village project. Well ... Kim had me with his explanation of "The Riff"(the diagonal streetscape that will be a signature aspect of the East Village and the Verve condo where I will be living)!
I ended up spending the time I would have been "surfing" listening and learning as I watched Kim do what he does best ... represent the East Village with passion, excitement and a voice that speaks to the future of what this great community will become leading up to the completion of the project in 2027!
A Bird's Eye View of the East Village
To say the least, the architectural model is impressive as it truly displays what this once barren part of the city is going to look like in just a few years. In fact, if you haven't been down to the East Village yet, you can already see how much has been done and that it is a location where the city gathers for community events and memorable experiences!
Beautifully Designed ... and Conscious of the Residents' Needs
The minute you walk into the EV Experience Centre you can't help but notice the impressive architectural model of the East Village in front of you. I admit to not taking the time to listen to the EV Ambassadors the first dozen times I've been to the Centre ... but HIGHLY recommend you take the tour and hear them give "life" to the model!
Aside from the list of distinguished developers working together to build this new community along the Bow River it was interesting to also see the planned projects to maintain existing buildings (that have been a staple of the community prior to 2005), renovate and restore historical buildings (like the Simmons Building) and projects that preserve the natural beauty of the area with parks and gardens throughout (like the RiverWalk, 5th Street Square and C-Square Urban Park).
What is most impressive to me is that, even though there are several developers building in this community, they are working together to create a beautiful and well thought out environment for the residents to live in ... and love! I am excited to feel the buzz of the neighbourhood as we get to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Bow River, downtown Calgary and the Rocky Mountains!
Everyone Can Live in the East Village
When I first found out about the East Village (thank you Facebook) I was under the assumption it was just going to be a block of condominiums east of Macleod Trail. Thank goodness I made the trip off Memorial Drive to find out how WRONG I was to assume such nonsense!
By 2027 the East Village will be home to over 11,000 people in Calgary ... and everyone has an opportunity to live, work, stay and play here! Condos, townhouses and rental properties are planned for the East Village in addition to a vast offering of retail, commercial and mixed use space that will make the community self-sufficient and a neighbourhood that is self-sustaining. For people who are planning on visiting the East Village the Hilton Hotel is currently under construction just east of the Bow Valley College.
Calgary's Newest Destination Location
Aside from the beautiful architecture that will be a part of the landscape of the East Village there are several other groundbreaking projects that will make the community a destination location!
- RiverWalk - a key connector and commuter route for pedestrians and cyclists that includes unique outdoor art installations, lighting, outdoor furniture and extensive landscaping
- Simmons Building (charbar, Phil & Sebastian and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery) - this "trifecta" of purveyors of delectable delights and delicious experiences is already WOWing residents and visitors from around the globe
- Outdoor Art Installations - local artists get to share the visions of the RiverWalk as the stroll along the Bow River becomes an experience and a journey rather than just a way to get from point A to point B
- St. Patrick's Island - scheduled to open to the public in the late summer of 2015, this 31-acre area will be a recreation haven for Calgarians ... winter, spring, summer and fall!
- The National Music Centre - a true representation of the old and the new coming together (as it is integrated with the historical King Edward Hotel) this will become the centrepiece of music appreciation, education and development in Calgary and across the country; it is scheduled to open in 2016 (potentially a showcase location during the JUNO Awards here in Calgary)
- New Central Library - scheduled to open in 2018, the NCL will be home to a physical collection of approximately 600,000 books, special programs and spaces for children and teens, a technology commons and laboratory for innovation, a centre that supports community integration and advancement through skills development, and much more.
In preparation, several roadways and bridges have been built (or are under construction) to accommodate easier access to the East Village. In addition, East Villagers benefit from the CTrain 7th Avenue Free Fare Zone to access anything they need with City Hall station just minutes away!
Community Dedicated to its Residents
Being that I've lived in some of the busiest cities in the world, I was happy to come back to Calgary where I would be back to the mountains and some fresh air! At first I was hesitant about living near the city's downtown. The East Village, even though it is just a few blocks from the city's downtown core, doesn't "feel" like downtown. In fact, it doesn't even "sound" like you're downtown! Granted, there is an awful lot of construction happening right now but you don't feel the congestion or the hustle and bustle stress of living downtown.
People simply take their time walking down the RiverWalk, sit on the benches or the grass with their shoes off and casually listen to the rush of the Bow River at their feet. It's honestly a little piece of heaven in the middle of the big city! But ... that doesn't just happen by accident. The plans for the neighbourhood specifically include:
- Narrow roads and wide pedestrian sidewalks
- Areas set out for community gardens and growing space
- Beautiful landscaping and "living" design elements
- A "NO CAR" condominium development (this condo will not include parking stalls and promote the use of bicycles and Car2Go as transportation options)
Preserving Calgary's Rich Heritage
The East Village started as one of Calgary's very first communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s which is now being revitalized into a globally-recognized community of the future! Many of the historical buildings in the area are a part of this revitalization where history is maintained and celebrated as they also rebuild for the needs of the community's new residents. The following historical landmarks are going to play centre stage to East Village community life:
- Simmons Building - currently the "gastronomic hub" of the East Village
- St. Louis Hotel - future commercial and office tenants
- Hillier Block - future commercial tenants
- King Edward Hotel (the King Eddy) - future home to the new National Music Centre
- Calgary Stampede - currently provides a direct path from the East Village to Stampede Park via the 4th Street SE underpass (just a 10 minute walk)
- Fort Calgary - this spacious 40 acre site offers events, interactive exhibits and tours
One testament to the conscious effort to preserve the heritage of these buildings is the fact that they are cataloging every brick from the King Eddy and then incorporating them back into the buildout of the National Music Centre ... combining the old and new into the final result. WOW!
This Is Only the Beginning ...
I didn't think I could get MORE excited to be moving into the East Village ... BUT I AM! Kim, with his masterful delivery of the East Village of the (near) future, has my mind spinning as I envision what life will be like as a part of this revitalized community's history. But, as I left the centre to get in a run (instead of the SURFSET class) I began to wonder about:
- Schools in the area (for younger families)
- Medical services
- Recreational facilities, fitness clubs and/or studios (because I am a fitness "nerd" and LIVE for physical activity)
So ... I will be back to "pester" Kim (and his EV Ambassador counterparts) for answers to these burning questions and I will DEFINITELY be back on the EV Experience Centre deck for Mallory's Thursday 4:15pm SURFSET class!
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on July 10, 2015)