CALGARY -- It’s one of Calgary’s most iconic streets, but the city says Stephen Avenue is in need of a facelift. 

Open houses will be held this week to receive public input on the future of the historic downtown street.

The sessions will run Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 2 p.m., and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. at 120 Eighth Ave. S.W. 

Plans to reimagine Stephen Avenue are already in the works with a vision to improve the overall vibrancy and liveliness of the area. 

One of the biggest challenges lies in generating and maintaining businesses in the area as shops have been closing due to declining values in the downtown core and increases in property taxes. 

The city says the street itself is deteriorating and was designed to suit the style of the 1990s. As a result, it wants to bring it in step with modern times. 

The redesign is looking to:

  • Extend the pedestrian mall westward toward Eighth Street.
  • Increase street activity during peak and non-peak periods.
  • Establish a vibe that addresses existing character, heritage and attracts and sustains a range of established and unique business activity.
  • Create something for everyone, celebrate fun, and encourage social mixing.
  • Find ways to address social disorder and help citizens feel safe.
  • Improve year-round pedestrian connectivity from end to end.
  • Balance mobility for everyone — pedestrians, cyclists, goods, and vehicles.
  • Give users, occupants and owners an accessible, flexible space.
  • Propose temporary measures to address life-cycle deterioration of the public realm.

The City of Calgary is currently working with Danish design firm Gehl Studio to develop a preliminary design concept of Stephen Avenue, which is set to be unveiled sometime in early 2020. 

Those plans will be paired with a program to create more opportunities for private investment and redevelopment in the future. A full concept design of Stephen Avenue is expected to be unveiled to Calgarians by Spring of next year.