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East Village: Success, or a long ways away yet?

  • Successful now

    Votes: 11 39.3%
  • Will be successful in 5 years

    Votes: 14 50.0%
  • Will be successful in 10 years

    Votes: 3 10.7%
  • Won't ever be successful

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    28
The C-Train as it enters East Village

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If East Village isn't successful already, it won't be long before it is. With 4 new projects started or about to start it's just a matter of time.
 
It's nice to watch East Village as it evolves, but part of me wants to jump ahead 3 years and see the finished product. There will still be a few empty lots in East Village, but it will have a incompletely different feel from what it is today.
 
Twice in the last week I've been down to East Village and I would say that it's successful now. I voted that way a year ago, but was on the fence. After spending a couple of afternoons hanging around the neighborhood I would say it already is. A few things stand out for me.

- East Village Junction. Very cool.
- The Riverwalk pathway along EV. I was amazed at how busy it was even in the middle of a weekday afternoon. It's become a nice public space.
- The foot traffic along 4th street going to and from Victoria Park. It's much busier than I remember it being.
 
I'd say successful already, but I'm really looking forward to five years from. Not least of which because EV is on my doorstep. Really looking forward to having another grocery store in the area, in particular.
 
I'm liking the vibe at East Village these days, and agree that it could probably be considered a success already. No question that once the 4 projects u/c are finished it will be a complete success of a neighbourhood that will only get better.
 
Neighbourhood success is a tough thing to define and agree on. Are we measuring it by quality of public space and number of condos sold? It would be easy to agree that EV is successful on these terms. The spaces are well designed, increasingly animated and active, with only more activity attracted with each new development. It still feels contrived in some ways, but as the "new" label transitions to the "its how it is" over the next few years that feeling of artificiality will recede.

The one area I am a bit concerned about in East Village it's its long-term vibrancy. As it's been developed so far, it's a wealthy, downtown, young professional neighbourhood plan with the exception of the few seniors towers in the south end of the neighbourhood. EV has failed so far - like many new master plan urban developments in Canada - in this respect. New housing is always expensive, so its difficult for a development project like EV to really attack the structural affordability issues that are larger than itself.

I also looking forward to EV transitioning in the coming years. I expect it to land somewhere on the continuum between Eau Claire and the Beltline.

The Beltline scenario will see the neighbourhood transition with different building formats coming online and the ageing of the existing stock to produce a variety of housing options, prices etc (and therefore a diverse set of residents). Flexible retail designs, mixed-use programs will allow the neighbourhood to be increasingly active and vibrant with a range of services (imagine by 2030 if EV had an actual real dive bar as opposed to a expensive fake dive bar for downtown elites!)

The Eau Claire scenario may happen if the transition described above doesn't happen for some reason and the neighbourhood stays relatively homogeneous by income. Dense, but expensive, fairly tame and homogeneous (albeit perhaps locked at a younger demographic). More Nationals (I heard a rumour one was heading to EV already), more Cactus Clubs etc. This is the "new Vancouver" route: a clean, award-winning, beautiful, Instagrammable - but ultimately boring place for those than can afford it. This option is not the ideal outcome for an inner city urban area like EV. Diversity in housing style/size/affordability, mixed use development, and a bit of chaotic interaction between visitors/residents/young/old/rich/poor is a better outcome for such a prominent and accessible area.

Right now there is plenty of evidence that supports either outcome happening in the long-run (perhaps most new places eventually end up somewhere in the middle regardless of efforts to support either vision). EV really is an exciting "development", but I look forward to the day it is no longer considered a development at all and just becomes another weird little neighbourhood that people live their lives in. It was once that before and with a bit of luck it will return to that.
 
Well said @CBBarnett . From my point of view, I look at it as a success in comparison to what it has been over the last 20-30 years. There's no question this neighborhood will be home to a different crowd of people, and will be sort of an 'instant gentrification' going from 0 to 100 at light speed. It will be more of the Vancouver feel with the clean shiny buildings, no argument there, but on the other hand, it has been an awful neighborhood for the last 20 years, and it's not likely it would have changed any time soon. I prefer that it goes this route, even if it has some downsides.
 
Why does every area need to be chaotic, and "diverse". Why can't cities have a well maintained, master planned, upper scale area that attracts a specific demographic? Not everything needs to be rough around the edges, gritty, and scummy.

Great post!

I think it depends on person-to-person, but when an area has a gritty/chaotic feel, it signifies that people actively inhabit that area...it has a human feel to it. When an area is too clean it can feel banal, sterile and cold. Conversely if an area is too dirty and chaotic no one wants to live there.

Some people like order, some people like chaos. I think most people like something in between.
 
I really like the East Village. I absolutely maintain my opinion that the neighbourhood is a success now. Having had the opportunity to spend more time down there I think it needs some time to mature. I agree with both LaFamilia that there's nothing wrong with the city having a clean upperclass highrise neighbourhood. I also agree with SJ that neighbourhoods could use a little more chaos. The lack of freedom of expression is mostly what makes our suburbs so dull. From an amenity perspective, I think the EV needs to fill in a bit. There needs to be some more restaurants and places to hang out. I find myself gravitating back to the Simmons block all too often when I'm in the area. I've also found the people moving into the neighbourhood to be a touch too much on the hip side as a rule. Chic upperclass highrises sure, but this is Calgary no one should ever feel out of place anywhere in the city. A Timmy's, a hole in the wall Pho place and a pancake breakfast at the right time of year probably wouldn't hurt.
 
Great post!

I think it depends on person-to-person, but when an area has a gritty/chaotic feel, it signifies that people actively inhabit that area...it has a human feel to it. When an area is too clean it can feel banal, sterile and cold. Conversely if an area is too dirty and chaotic no one wants to live there.

Some people like order, some people like chaos. I think most people like something in between.
Why does every area need to be chaotic, and "diverse". Why can't cities have a well maintained, master planned, upper scale area that attracts a specific demographic? Not everything needs to be rough around the edges, gritty, and scummy.

I kind of like it be half and half, a bit of grit, some business, and some modern and clean mixed in. 1st street SW is a great example of a bit of grit mixed in with modern and funky. EV will have a similar feel to that (or so I hope) once all the construction is completed.
 
I really like the East Village. I absolutely maintain my opinion that the neighbourhood is a success now. Having had the opportunity to spend more time down there I think it needs some time to mature. I agree with both LaFamilia that there's nothing wrong with the city having a clean upperclass highrise neighbourhood. I also agree with SJ that neighbourhoods could use a little more chaos. The lack of freedom of expression is mostly what makes our suburbs so dull. From an amenity perspective, I think the EV needs to fill in a bit. There needs to be some more restaurants and places to hang out. I find myself gravitating back to the Simmons block all too often when I'm in the area. I've also found the people moving into the neighbourhood to be a touch too much on the hip side as a rule. Chic upperclass highrises sure, but this is Calgary no one should ever feel out of place anywhere in the city. A Timmy's, a hole in the wall Pho place and a pancake breakfast at the right time of year probably wouldn't hurt.

I would absolutely love to see a 2-3 storey retail building go into that empty lot directly east of N3. something like the Eau Claire Market redesign, but without the towers, but instead having some larger spaces up top, for say...a gym, or a community centre...
 
Hey guys, just a heads up, I added 'successful in 5 years' to the poll, as 10 years is a long ways away.
 

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