Tall tower proposal for central Edmonton runs into opposition

Click to play video: 'Proposed skyscraper for Jasper Avenue doesn’t convince everyone at City Hall' Proposed skyscraper for Jasper Avenue doesn’t convince everyone at City Hall
WATCH ABOVE: A 45-storey building is proposed for the corner of 114 Street and Jasper Avenue. The height limit in the area is 14 storeys. As Vinesh Pratap reports, the city's chief planner believes the concept is too tall for the area – Jun 10, 2016

An Edmonton developer has big plans for a gravel lot on 114 Street at Jasper Avenue.

“We just really wanted to again make a difference on the skyline and change how people viewed Jasper Avenue,” Regency Developments’ Raj Dhunna said to Global News when describing the Emerald Tower, a 45-storey building with plans for just over 270 units.

But the city’s chief planner is expressing concern about the proposed height.

The Oliver community is covered under an area redevelopment plan with height restrictions.  According to the community league, the maximum height in the area is 14 storeys.

“We’re evolving as an administration around some of our thinking for tall buildings,” Peter Ohm, the City of Edmonton’s chief city planner, said.

“Our general position on this is we have not obtained the rationale – the planning rationale – for a building of that height,” he added.

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The developer is looking at possibly incorporating a day care into the tall tower proposal. Regency Developments

To appease concerns, Regency is looking at room to provide a daycare space and to sell five per cent of the units at 85 per cent of list value.

The company is aiming at making the overall development “attainable,” with two-bedroom, two-bath units expected to start in the $350,000 range.

To achieve that, the company wants to have most of the parking structure located above ground, above the planned retail level.

“The deeper you go, the costs per unit increases,” Dhunna explained.

“We’re going to hide the above-grade parking behind this coloured glass,” Dhunna added.

Still, the parking design is a concern for the city with the above-ground levels not providing an “active frontage” according to a city report.

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The developer indicates the parking levels will be hidden, covered with an illuminated colour glass.

Regency Developments

The Oliver Community League has also weighed into the debate.

“This tower will cast, certainly, a long shadow,” Michael Sacha, with the community league, said.  “I think it’s important that if we’re going to see development like this that we get the right kind of investment back in the community.”

The league is calling for smaller retail bays to attract independent business and for some units designed to accommodate families.

The proposal will be up for debate at a public hearing at city hall on Monday afternoon.

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