The area has become one of Calgary's most popular outdoor shopping venues. Businesses consist of small-scale retailers, coffee shops, and pubs. The BRZ hosts an annual street festival, the Marda Gras Festival, in early August. The area is named after Marc and Mada Jenkins, who were the owners of the Marda Theatre (Odeon Theatre), the name being a combination of their two names. The theatre was opened in 1953 and closed in 1988, and was demolished in 1990.
Historically, the area has always been a hub of activity for that part of the city as it was once a turnaround point for the "Marda" streetcar line. In recent years, the community saw a serious decline due to the departure of the Canadian Forces base and the closure of the MQ (Married Quarters) area. However, in the last 7 - 10 years, there has been a large upswing in the business and residential community due to substantial redevelopment in the area and the community has regained some of its historical vibrancy.
Recently there has been a significant increase in housing density in the surrounding neighbourhoods, as older homes are giving way to new higher density condominiums. Marda Loop is becoming a trendy area with an influx of higher income households and new businesses. Evidence of the shift towards a younger and more dynamic population can be seen in new and emerging community events and facilities. The area hosts an annual film festival, a Yoga & Meditation Community Center, and an annual street festival aptly named "Marda Gras".