Recently, Embassy Bosa announced their new luxury condo 36-storey The Royal at the Beltline corner of 9th Street and 16th Avenue, or as some people call the area, Lower Mount Royal. Yes, this is the same developer who was one of the pioneers in East Village. And, for those following Calgary’s condo capers, they are also going to be a major player in the Currie Barracks mega makeover saga. Clearly, Ryan Bosa, President of Vancouver-based Embassy Bosa, is keen on Calgary, so keen in fact, that the company has all its eggs in one basket – Calgary.
Ryan’s love of Calgary originated back in the early ‘90s when his Dad, Nat Bosa pioneered new urban living in Calgary by building five condos (Liberte, 1999; Axxis, 2000; Marquis, 2001; Barclay/Macleod at Riverwest, 2003, 2004) in downtown’s West End community, i.e. west of 8th Ave SW.
The backstory reads like this. In the early ‘90s, there had been little new residential development in the downtown for over 10 years. The Calgary Downtown Association (I was the executive director at the time) commissioned IBI Group in 1996 to conduct interviews with condo developers in Calgary and Vancouver to ask “Why?” The key finding in the report – Calgarians are only interested in single-family homes be those immediately accessible in the communities surrounding downtown or those in the suburbs only 30 minutes away. Why live in a condo when you can live in a house? was the message.
Ironically, about a year after the report, Nat Bosa (one of the Vancouver developers interviewed) started construction on his first Calgary condo with the younger impressionable Ryan as part of the team. While Calgary’s downtown was lacking residential amenities, he loved the city’s youthful enthusiasm and civic pride. Ryan was blown away by how the entire city embraced the spirit of the Calgary Stampede, “you’d never get that to happen in Vancouver” he told me.
While the Bosa family moved on to projects in other cities (namely San Diego) to continue his urban makeovers, Ryan began making his own way in the world of condo development. In 2010, he made East Village history by announcing Embassy Bosa Inc.’s commitment to building 700,000 square feet of mixed-use residential development. This was the turning point for East Village.
“When I first saw the East Village vision, toured the site and saw the infrastructure improvements, I thought, wow this is the best urban development plan in North America” says Ryan. He was also impressed with how much Calgary’s downtown and city centre had changed since the ‘90s - there was an urban buzz all around East Village with exciting plans for Inglewood, Bridgeland and Stampede Park. He decided very quickly he was “all in!”
It didn’t take long for Ryan to identify other opportunities for Embassy Bosa in Calgary’s growing condo living market. Canada Lands Corporation’s (CLC) master plan to transform the Currie Barracks historic site into an urban village was a perfect fit for Embassy Bosa. Today, CLC and Embassy Bosa are working together to create a new “live, work, play” community adjacent to Mount Royal University and West Mount Business Park and just minutes from downtown.
With past behaviour being a reasonably good predictor of future behaviour, I highly suspect The Royal is not the final chapter in the Bosa Family saga of shaping urban living in Calgary.
Note: An edited version of this blog was commissioned by Condo Living Magazine.