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Controversial $350-million project scrapped for Calgary’s Chinatown

Click to play video 'Controversial development in Calgary’s Chinatown cancelled' Controversial development in Calgary’s Chinatown cancelled
A controversial $350-million project for Calgary's Chinatown has been cancelled. – Jun 18, 2019

Developer El Condor Lands has scrapped a controversial $350-million project for Calgary’s Chinatown. The developer requested the permit be cancelled at a hearing Tuesday at the Sub-Division Appeal Board.

The board agreed and withdrew the permit, meaning it can no longer go forward.

It’s being called a victory by those who have fought for changes to the plan for the last five years.

“The project itself, as submitted, is dead,” says Terry Wong, spokesperson for a group calling itself Friends of Chinatown.

“If they want to come back they have to start all over again.”

El Condor Lands wanted to build two 27-storey high rise towers on a block of land between 2 and 3 avenues S.W. just off Centre Street, in the heart of Chinatown.

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The towers were to house 519 condos and commercial property.

In addition, there were plans for a retail corridor and a 12-storey hotel.

Watch: (November 2018) proposed Chinatown project

Click to play video 'More on the new Chinatown development in downtown Calgary' More on the new Chinatown development in downtown Calgary
More on the new Chinatown development in downtown Calgary – Nov 20, 2018

Wong says the problem was that it was like putting The Bow office tower in the middle of Heritage Park, it just didn’t fit.

“We want development no doubt about it. We were not against the development of the property or anything else as such,” said Wong. ”What we have been concerned about all along is the preservation of Chinatown as a cultural district. The safety of the residents in the area. And making sure that Chinatown in the future grows to what it should be which is a vibrant community.”

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One of the biggest concerns was safety for seniors who live and attend four senior residences along 2 Avenue S.W.

“I am quite pleased about the decision,” said Liza Chan, of the Calgary Chinatown Elderly Residents Association. ”Because I know now that there will not be 500 cars travelling along 2 Avenue S.W., that avenue is a gateway for seniors to come to our centre.”

Wong says he wants to work with the developer on a project that would be better suited to Chinatown.

“It is a residential, it is a walkable community. We don’t want Chinatown eroded in such a way that safety is impacted.”

The Sub-Division Appeal board says its decision will be official after 15 days when it is distributed in written form by the City of Calgary.

In an emailed statement to Global News, the developer said the project had the support of the broader community, a majority of council and the approval of the planning commission and city administration. It said the company would be re-submitting a development permit at a later date.