Co-op’s Dalhousie location gets green light for redevelopment

An artist's rendering of the plans to redevelop the Calgary Co-op site in Dalhousie.
An artist's rendering of the plans to redevelop the Calgary Co-op site in Dalhousie. Supplied - City of Calgary

One day after having its Oakridge project sent back to the drawing board by city council, Calgary Co-op won approval on Tuesday to push forward with its plans to redevelop its shopping centre site at Dalhousie and turn it into a mixed-use development.

The redesigned location will include a residential component with 440 units in addition to commercial, retail and office space.

“We still have some prior-to-release conditions in the development permits that we have to work through a little bit,” said Tony Argento, director of real estate and development for Calgary Co-op. “Now we can move to that stage of the drawings where we can get the building permits ready.

“Shovels will be in the ground in 2019.”

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READ MORE: Calgary city council could decide on Co-op redevelopment projects Monday

The vote to approve the land-use application was not unanimous. Councillors Druh Farrell and Gian-Carlo Carra voted against the application.

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“What we have in front of us is a bunch of discrete uses with no connections,” said Farrell, who felt walkability and integration with the neighbourhood were key components missing from the plan. “It’s not good enough. These sites are too precious to have a mediocre application.

“I can’t support this. I know it’s been a difficult process for the community [and the] applicant, but we’re not there yet.”

But others on council felt the project was good enough to move forward.

“I think this is a good use of the land that’s there,” Councillor Jeff Davison said. “Sometimes you’re chasing perfection for the sake of trying to be perfect, [and it] is killing great projects.”

“Let’s remind ourselves — we’re not creating a new community in this case. We’re revitalizing an area of an existing community. I think sometimes we lose track of that every time we add density to something.”

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“Every [council] member has their own opinion of what should happen,” Argento said when asked about the questioning he faced from council over the project. “That’s, I guess, the development game.”

READ MORE: Co-op Oakridge redevelopment goes back under the microscope

On Monday, council refused to give approval for a land-use application for a similar Co-op project in the community of Oakridge. They referred it back to administration and the community’s city councillor for further review.

During the meeting, Argento had told council that executive management at Co-op felt if the plans couldn’t be approved, they would abandon the mixed-use complex in favour of simply renovating the existing 40-year-old grocery store on the site.

“We’re going to have an interesting discussion,” Argento told reporters. Co-op’s board is set to meet on Thursday to discuss the Oakridge news.

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However, Argento said just because one project might be facing further scrutiny doesn’t mean the organization’s aspirations of pursuing other mixed-use developments — including plans for sites in Brentwood and along 16 Avenue — are off the table.

“It’s not a whole package deal,” he said.