Two 51-storey towers planned for Edmonton’s downtown

Watch above: It’s described as one of the city’s biggest residential infill projects. One with the potential to change downtown Edmonton. As Eric Szeto reports, the latest condo development proposal is a reflection of Edmonton’s hot market.

EDMONTON – Yet another mixed-use development is in the works for Edmonton’s ever-booming downtown.

An Ontario development company is currently preparing a rezoning application to build two 51-storey towers near MacEwan University.

Rise Real Estate plans to create 1,300 rental and condominium units, and 44,000-square feet of office and retail space on 106 Street between 103 and 104 Avenues. The cost of the project is pegged between $300 million and $400 million.

“It’s a significant development in terms of being well over one million square feet of developable space,” said project manager Chris Dulaba of Edmonton’s Callidus Developments. “In fact, it will make it one of Edmonton’s largest residential projects to date, or in recent history.

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Dulaba says a maximum of 300 parking stalls would be allotted to the development.

“Its locational attributes lends [it] to being highly walkable, with of course the NAIT LRT line … that’s set to open in a few months, in addition to the multiple transit routes, the proximity to downtown, the proximity to MacEwan University.

“We’re really trying to design and develop this for people.”

Downtown Edmonton is transforming at a breakneck pace. This proposal is just the latest in a growing list of developments already announced, including the downtown arena, Stantec’s 62-storey mixed-use tower and a new Delta Hotel.

“Our downtown is going to go through this sort of metamorphosis that no downtown in North America has ever seen, certainly in modern times,” said city councillor Scott McKeen.

READ MORE: Design unveiled for record setting 62-storey Edmonton tower

The vice president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League says he’s discussed the project with the developers and, so far, likes what he’s heard.

“We’re still looking forward to seeing a bit more detail on it,” said Ian O’Donnell, “but the downtown is really starting to evolve and get a bit of critical mass and people are really the key part of that. So adding 1,000 or 1,500 people to the downtown is really going to impact not only the livability but also improve the opportunities for retail and restaurants in the area.”

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The development, according to Dulaba, would incorporate the Massey-Harris Building on 103 Avenue. It was built in 1947 and housed Healy Ford until 2011.

O’Donnell is pleased with the move, saying it’s important for a big city like Edmonton to keep important pieces of its history.

“We have lost a lot of era architecture in the city,” he said. “You look at great cities around the world and they’ve really started to incorporate and retain a lot of their character buildings. Edmonton and Calgary have lost a lot of their buildings because of speculation and boom and bust cycles that we’ve seen.”

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O’Donnell strongly believes the warehouse district could be an incredible downtown neighbourhood, the only thing it’s missing is people.

“This area, it just needs people. It is relatively low-density. Most of the buildings are one or two stories. A lot of them are commercial businesses, which don’t have a lot of interaction,” he said. “There is great opportunity in this area to really create a neighbourhood and that’s what has been lacking in this area.”

Dulaba says Rise Real Estate has an established background of developing properties near major universities. The company has already developed five similar sites in southwest Ontario.

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The company hopes to have permits in place in the next eight to 10 months, with phase one of the project completed by 2018.

With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.

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