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Monday, April 18, 2011

Entertainment Centred Development Taking Off in Canada

By Walsh Mannas (Calgary)

Cadillac Fairview’s recent announcement in the Montreal Gazette of their $400M development surrounding Montreal’s Bell Centre defines a unique focus that we are seeing in the commercial real estate market across the country, which is a focus on mixed use, entertainment centred development.

Cadillac Fairview has over the years amalgamated a significant tract of land surrounding the Bell Centre on which they are now envisioning a development that will potentially include office, retail, hotel and residential amenities. This sort of master planning is by no means new, but to see it taking place inner-city across the country is a delight. The Bell Centre development comes at a time when two other major entertainment-centered developments in Canada are moving forward: Edmonton’s Arena District and Calgary’s Stampede Trail.

I think it is interesting to note that these developments/redevelopments have similar attributes, grouping together various commercial uses to increase the vibrancy of the developments throughout the day and throughout the year. All three projects are concentrated around NHL arenas and a portion of their goal is going to focus on attracting game-day traffic towards their sites before and after the games.

I think the fact that these developments centre around NHL arenas is especially poignant for the Calgary and Edmonton developments and truly speaks to the tenacity and forward-thinking nature of the developers there because at least in Montreal the Bell Centre site will benefit from an NHL season which includes the playoffs.

Playoffs or not these developments will be great economic drivers for the surrounding districts and help revitalize their respective nodes. These developments will provide entertainment, retail and restaurant amenities that will keep people downtown and will add to the viability of future inner-city development.

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