Collaborator-in-Chief

Master Developer CMLC went on a national headhunt for a new president and CEO. Happily, the right candidate was very close to home.

Michael Brown's last assignment was as associate vp for Matthews Southwest, the organization charged with building the massive BOW building, Encana's 58-story downtown tower that’s an East Village neighbour. He's also been a vp with Calgary Economic Development and director of business development at Cushman and Wakefield, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm. For evexperience.com, he answers five quick questions as he prepares to take the reins September 21.

You're a bit of an outsider to East Village.
My family has long roots in Calgary and I am a third generation Calgarian on both sides of my family, so I don’t see myself as an outsider. My father at one time worked in East Village. My grandfather used to walk it as a policeman. As a kid, I bought all my sporting supplies from Frenchies. And Billingsgate is where my Nana used to take my brother and I to buy fish for Christmas Eve dinner.

What's your impression of the neighbourhood?
When the master plan was announced in 2009, I thought the City of Calgary and the board of directors had an intelligent and ambitious plan for East Village. My impressions of EV today is that the plan is working, it is gaining momentum and attracting outside investment, which is a measurement of success. East Village is a game-changer, and I’ve always been excited by its potential. Name one other community in Calgary that’s bordered by two rivers!

What are the challenges of East Village now?
I think our greatest challenge is to make Calgarians aware of the jewel that is being built east of City Hall. We have hit important milestones over the past few years but really think the work has just begun. We still have significant pieces of land to sell, a comprehensive retail offering that needs to be realized and linkages, in the form of pathways and bridges, that must be built. It is crucial that we keep stakeholders engaged in the next few years. There is a lot of work ahead and if we do not execute it properly we will not have a community that reaches its full potential.

What are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to walking down the street and being overwhelmed by the East Village sense of place. I believe East Village is on its way to being one of Canada’s greatest urban communities. I also believe that one day East Village will be on the must-see list for all visitors to Calgary and a top community to live in.

How does THE BOW building, your last project, connect to East Village?
In two main ways – one, it supplies critical CRL (Community Revitalization Levy) revenues to the Rivers District Revitalization plans, which allow CMLC to continue to borrow necessary funds to complete infrastructure work. And two, THE BOW is a substantial development on the east of downtown. Like East Village, THE BOW is the start of something big east of Centre.