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Artists Quarters in downtown Edmonton given green light by council

Artists Quarters up for debate at Edmonton city council Monday
WATCH ABOVE: A downtown building proposed to house local artists and arts organizations could be one step closer to becoming reality.

Edmonton city council has unanimously approved zoning changes that will make way for the construction of a new arts facility just east of the downtown core.

The Artists Quarters building would be located at the corner of 102A Avenue and 96 Street. Situated within blocks of the Citadel Theatre, Winspear Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, the mixed-use development is seen as a way to redevelop the east side of downtown while supporting the local arts community.

“We’ve seen examples in other parts of town, specifically around Alberta Avenue with Arts on the Avenue and a concentration of artists, really beginning to transform an area,” Ward 6 councillor Scott McKeen said.

“I think it could be and would be a spectacular area if we get things rolling there.”

As proposed, the project will contain more than 60 residential units, as well as a community space, library and community garden. There will also be space for non-profit arts organizations, and performance and work studios. The 18-storey building is set to be part of what’s known as The Quarters downtown, an area that’s seen about $27 million of development.

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“It’s a really nice catalyst project to establish, perhaps, a vibe in the area,” McKeen said. “Even as other things go in it’ll just trench a vibe in the area and that vibe will be arts because I think there’s a theatre company looking at moving into that building and there’s going to be open studio space, some retail or hospitality on the main floor.

“I think that kind of mixed use with an arts focus, I can’t think of any community in town that won’t go, ‘Yeah, we’d like that in our community please.'”

READ MORE: The Quarters is groomed for grand development plans

But it’s not full speed ahead just yet. The project doesn’t have secured funding in place.

“It’s close. I know the city has given its commitment. I’ve heard the federal government is ready and willing. Now it all rests with the provincial government,” McKeen said, adding the city is looking for a one-time commitment of about $8 million from the province.

“We all recognize the financial pressures the provincial government is under but they can’t halt everything and some of these projects promise to have economic development potential.”

The Quarters is currently home to 2,400 residents but the city believes with the right development it will soon have the capacity to accommodate up to 18,000 people.

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The vote was unanimous on the zoning which was needed as step one to get federal and provincial funding since subsidized housing is part of the $32-million plan.

Watch below:  It’s perhaps the most elegant-looking street in Edmonton, where tens of millions has been spent. But most people don’t know about it. A lot of work has been done in an area just east of downtown called The Quarters, but more is needed to ensure the investment pays off. Vinesh Pratap reports.  (Filed May 2016). 

Millions spent on ‘The Quarters’ redevelopment, but is it paying off?
Millions spent on ‘The Quarters’ redevelopment, but is it paying off?

This story was originally published on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. It was updated at 5:34 p.m. Monday to include city council approval of the project. 

With a file from 630 CHED.