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8 Calgary Shopping Districts & Business Improvement Areas

Posted by Justin Havre on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022 at 1:06pm.

Best Business Improvement Areas in Calgary

Calgary is one of Canada's largest and most thriving cities, functioning as a hub of the region's energy sector as well as other industries. But it's also known for its high quality of life, in part due to the hard work of the city's Business Improvement Areas, also known as BIAs. Whether you're moving to Calgary or own an established Calgary business, knowing the city's BIAs will pay off.

Fifteen BIAs are spread across Calgary to develop or beautify local properties, improve and maintain public parking, and promote the neighbourhood economy. They also help facilitate communication between residents and the city. Funded by a small annual levy on businesses within the BIA, these relatively little-known organizations can play a huge role in a community. Read on as we explore a few of the best.

Kensington

One of Calgary's unquestionably best BIAs operates in the neighbourhood of Kensington, just northwest of the city's core. This vibrant district centers on the intersection of Kensington Road and 10th Street NW. It is surrounded by more than 250 shops and restaurants, extensive public art, and much more, all supported by the Kensington BIA.

Full of character, Kensington hosts eclectic clothing stores, comic book shops, cafes, bookstores, and much more. Dining and nightlife range from old-school standbys like the Kensington Pub to an ever-changing selection of hot new tastes. The Kensington BIA also sponsors annual events, from holiday parties to live music. Meantime, residents still have access to daily basics like grocery stores and can also take advantage of the Sunnyside C-Train stop for access to Calgary's light rail system.

Housing in the Kensington area consists primarily of condos and Calgary multifamily buildings with a smaller but significant number of single-family detached homes. One-bedroom units can be found for less than $200,000, with twos and threes starting in the $400s. Those looking for a single-family home can expect to pay $600,000 to $2 million for three- to four-bedroom properties.

Kensington Amenities

  • Extensive shopping and dining options
  • Sunnyside C-Train Station
  • Poppy Plaza
  • Convenient to Downtown

Inglewood

Inglewood BIA in Calgary

Inglewood may be Calgary's oldest neighbourhood, but it's anything but old-fashioned. This community is equal parts historic and hip! This charming, walkable area is centred around 9th Avenue Southeast. Inglewood is home to an eclectic mix of art galleries, music stores, bars, restaurants, and other retail, housed in buildings that sometimes date back a century or more. The area is also great for those who love to get outdoors, thanks to the numerous riverfront parks and multi-use trails that snake through the community, most notably Pierce Estate Park. The Inglewood BIA helps promote the community's many shops and hospitality businesses and organizes events like festivals and car-free Sundays.

Those looking for a home in Inglewood will find both detached single-family homes and condos, with the latter slightly more common. Condos can be found from the high $200s to around half a million, ranging from about 500 to just over 1,000 square feet of living space. Detached Inglewood homes for sale start in the mid-$500s but can reach nearly $2 million for the largest and newest properties.

Inglewood Amenities

  • Extensive shopping and dining options
  • Bicycle parking throughout the area
  • Pearce Estate Park
  • Inglewood Wildlands and Bird Sanctuary
  • Community events and festivals
  • Convenient to Downtown

17th Avenue SW

Along a long, narrow stretch of central Calgary lies the exciting shopping and entertainment district of 17th Avenue SW. Stretching from 2nd Street SW to 16th Street SW, the area has come to be known as the "Red Mile" for its central role in pre- and post-game celebrations for the city's Calgary Flames NHL team. In addition to sometimes-rowdy gamedays, every day offers residents an opportunity to enjoy the many local restaurants, cafes, and diverse shops and small businesses.

Cuisines range from barbecue to Italian to Mexican, while shops offer everything from high-end shoes and jewelry to records and travel gear. The BIA for 17th Avenue SW helps support the community by promoting local businesses, sponsoring public art, and hosting events ranging from yoga to holiday parties to trivia nights.

17 Avenue SW's location near the core of Calgary means most homes in the community are condos and other multifamily properties. These vary widely: one-bedroom units with around 500 square feet of living space list from the mid-$100s, while large and luxurious units list for more than $1.5 million. Some single-family homes can be found in the area, listing from the $600s to around $1 million.

17th Avenue SW Amenities

  • More than a mile of restaurants, shopping, nightlife
  • Close to Scotiabank Saddledome
  • Close to Downtown
  • Elbow River Casino

Beltline

Just a few blocks south of Downtown lies the dense, eclectic neighbourhood known as the Beltline, which has been the target of a coordinated improvement campaign over recent years designed to bring more residents and businesses to the area. It's home to one of the city's best BIAs, which focuses on a smaller sub-community known as The BLOX, forming the heart of the area.

The BIA sponsors projects to commemorate neighbourhood history, hosts local events, and promotes local businesses. There's plenty to promote in this latter group, as those who love the Calgary nightlife will enjoy the incredible Beltline restaurants and shopping destinations. These include nationally recognized restaurants like Bridgette Bar, music venues like Koi, and coffee shops like Cafe Gravity. Naturally, this is just a tiny slice of the incredible urban adventures available in this BIA.

As one of Calgary's densest communities, housing in the Beltline is almost entirely made up of condos and other multifamily units. The area boasts many units under $200,000, while high-end units can sell for $1.5 million or more. Prices will vary based on the building's amenities, age, and other factors. Most homes for sale in Beltline typically list from the mid-$200s to the high $500s.

Beltline Amenities

  • One of Calgary's densest neighbourhoods
  • Dining, shopping, nightlife district
  • BMO Centre
  • Cowboys Casino

Bridgeland-Riverside

Bridgeland-Riverside BIA in Calgary

Bridgeland-Riverside's name tells potential buyers about this popular neighbourhood, set across the Bow River from the downtown and Beltline communities. It offers a unique mix of local businesses, outdoor recreation opportunities, and community spirit that can be hard to find in the big city.

Parks and green spaces are particularly significant to Bridgeland-Riverside, like St. Patrick's Island Park, which offers boardwalk trails, spots to get in the water, and public art. The community is also well-connected to the many trails and multi-use paths that snake through Calgary, allowing residents to get around the city while leaving their cars at home. However, they may be content to stay in their neighbourhood, trying out the dozens of restaurants, local shops, bars, and more supported by the Bridgeland-Riverside BIA.

Condos make up most of Bridgeland-Riverside's housing, though many detached homes and townhouses are also available. Multifamily units start in the $200s and can reach the $600s. Single-family luxury and new construction homes for sale in Bridgeland-Riverside list for up to $1.5 million, but more modestly-sized homes can be found for less than $500,000.

Bridgeland-Riverside Amenities

  • Numerous parks, green spaces, and paths/trails
  • Bridgeland/Memorial C-Train station
  • Calgary Zoo
  • Telus Spark Science Centre

International Avenue

East of the Bow River, International Avenue is home to some of Calgary's most diverse ethnic communities, providing a global flair unlike anything else in Alberta. The area stretches along the street that shares its name (an extension of 17th Avenue SE) from roughly Raddison Drive SE to Elliston Park and a few blocks outward. It calls itself "Calgary's Culinary and Cultural Capital," something evident from the restaurants, spice shops, international groceries, cafes, and other specialty stores that line the avenue. The perks of living near International Avenue are considerable.

Meantime, the International Avenue BIA (technically a business revitalization zone, or BRZ) connects residents and visitors to local businesses, hosts events, sponsors public art, and keeps locals updated on things going on in their community. Those who want to get outdoors have access to the many nearby Bow River green spaces and the area's own Elliston Park, which includes walking trails, a picnic area, and a playground.

Housing around the International Avenue corridor comprises single-family detached homes supplemented by some condominium developments. Condos can start under $200,000, though most of the area's properties sell from the mid-$300s to the high $600s.

International Avenue Amenities

  • Extensive international dining, food stores, and other shopping
  • Public art
  • Elliston Park
  • Bob Bahan Aquatic and Fitness Center

4th St S.W. BIA

Calgary's final top BIA represents the area around 4th Street SW, running from roughly 12th Avenue SW to 26th Avenue SW. This strip is jam-packed with restaurants and nightlife spots of all varieties, ensuring nearly everyone will find a place right for their mood and tastes.

Residents who enjoy getting outside and local history should check out Central Memorial Park, a more than century-old park thought to be the city's oldest, filled with memorials and a fountain. The 4th Street SW BIA promotes the area's many businesses and helps sponsor local events, including the area's popular Lilac Festival; this annual event brings thousands to the neighbourhood to enjoy vendors, live music, food, and socialization with their community. There's even a BIA pup club for dog lovers!

Most homes in the 4th St SW BIA are low- and mid-rise condominiums, with a few single-family homes and townhouses. It offers many moderately priced options, with most properties listing for $300,000 or less. Detached homes start in the high six figures and can reach over $1 million.

4th St S.W. Amenities

  • Wide-ranging dining district
  • Numerous community events
  • Central Memorial Park
  • Earl Grey Park

Downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary Business District

Calgary's central business district is full of hustle and bustle but also provides one of the city's best neighbourhoods for living. One of Calgary's most extensive BIAs with more than 2,500 businesses, it's also the city's oldest. Downtown spans the area north of 9th Avenue SE and south of the river. Marked by soaring skyscrapers and dense development, residents will be close to many of Calgary's significant employers but don't think of the area as all business. There's plenty of fun to be had as well, from the art of the Glenbow Museum to the incredible shopping along Stephen Avenue Walk or just people-watching at Olympic Plaza or Courthouse Park.

The dense, highly developed nature of downtown Calgary means those living there will find plenty of low-rise and high-rise condominiums to choose from. These can span a vast price range, with the most affordable Downtown Calgary homes for sale listing from the mid-$100s. Typical downtown homes will sell from $300,000 to the $700s, usually including at least 1,000 square feet of living space. Luxury units are also available from $1 million.

Downtown Calgary Amenities

  • Close to many major employers
  • Numerous C-train stops
  • Prince's Island Park
  • Stephen Avenue Walk

BIAs Make Calgary's Best Neighbourhoods Even Better

As one of Alberta's and Canada's top cities, Calgary has so much to offer. But beyond the thriving economy, diverse housing, and everything to do in Calgary, residents are lucky to enjoy some great business improvement areas that enhance the city's top communities even further. These delightful neighbourhoods offer a close-knit dining and retail community, excellent outdoor access, and regular events for all types of residents. It's hard to go wrong with any of these top Calgary BIAs!

If you're looking for the perfect Calgary home, contact Justin Havre of RE/MAX First with Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local Calgary real estate agent and discover your new dream home today.

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