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Mount Royal Village Continues Expansion Through Neighbourhood Acquisition

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Since First Capital Realty acquired Calgary’s Mount Royal Village in late 2011 it has actively transformed the shopping centre and the surrounding vicinity into a retail destination.

It’s part of the company’s overall plan to turn certain properties it owns – such as Liberty Village and Yorkville Village in Toronto – into truly go-to areas for the shopping and entertaining experience.

Over the last few years, Mount Royal Village, located along the busy 17th Avenue S.W. strip and near the affluent neighbourhood it is named after, has added retailers such as West Elm, London Drugs, Browns Socialhouse, Parc Brasseries, Kit and Ace as well as a wide array of services such as GoodLife Fitness.

In fact, First Capital Realty is the largest single-land owner in the Mount Royal area where the Village is located with all its fine dining, casual cuisine, chic cafes, boutique shopping and international retailers.

“The Mount Royal block was a very ordinary, rather strange-looking building on the street. It certainly didn’t match what was around it,” said Gareth Burton, senior vice president of construction and design with First Capital. “In keeping with how we think about neighbourhoods and the tenant mix, it was evident that there was no national gym chain. So the first thing we did was negotiate with GoodLife and put a gym in there.

“We then brought more restaurants to the ground floor because the street and the park (Tomkins Square) are a natural place for people to go and eat. We’ve also brought some lifestyle type amenities and reconverted our top floors into a different form of office so we could attract people who want to be in Mount Royal Village as opposed to a typical downtown office tower.”

“We worked with the building. We didn’t do a massive amount to the structure but we re-did the entire exterior so it was more appealing on the street. It looked more contemporary and could facilitate large format uses like Goodlife. And that gym is incredibly busy … It was clearly responding to a need on 17th Avenue.”

Mount Royal Village, which was built in 1979 and redeveloped in recent years, has about 108,690 square feet of space.

Directly to the west side of the Village, First Capital has also recently completed Mount Royal West – a mixed-use development at the intersection of 8th Street and 16th Avenue S.W. The 105,000-square-foot retail/office project will house an Urban Fare grocery store, a Canadian Tire urban store and medical office.

On the site, BOSA Development of Vancouver is building a 34-storey condo tower with 223 units called The Royal.

“We’ve created very unique space in a unique area,” said Jordan Robins, executive vice president and chief operating officer with First Capital.

Here are some numbers from First Capital that illustrate why the company is so keen on this area of Calgary:

  • Population. As of 2017, there were 30,778 people living within one kilometre of Mount Royal Village. Within three kilometres, there were 123,240. And within five kilometres, there were 223,162; and
  • Household income. As of 2017, household income within one kilometre of Mount Royal Village was $107,509. It was $136,161 within three kilometres and $134,120 within five kilometres.

Robins said the population in the area, comprised of both people living there and working there, is significant in order to create the functionality and vitality of what First Capital is doing. It’s also served well by transit and pedestrian-friendly.

“The retail we created in Mount Royal Village functions well with the office space and within the confines or the context of the neighbourhood as well. So there is commonality in that regard,” added Robins.

First Capital also owns the property on the east end of the city block where Mount Royal Village is located that currently houses lower level retail space.

The company is keen on the Beltline neighbourhood and is looking at the real estate it currently owns as well as potential properties to purchase and opportunities for redevelopment.

The company also owns the Devenish heritage building that is right beside Mount Royal Village and Mount Royal West.

“We want to try and understand how we can take the Devenish as it is today, how we can keep all the roots of the heritage of that building and what it represents and what it used to do, and how we can bring it to a contemporary environment,” said Burton.

The Shoppes at the Devenish, with 40,152 square feet of space,  is a unique heritage status building ideally located at the corner of 17th Avenue and 8th Street. It is home to several boutique retailers and two floors of character office space.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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