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City of Edmonton to sell land bordering Gateway Boulevard

City of Edmonton to sell land bordering Gateway Boulevard
WATCH ABOVE: The city is in talks to sell an oddly shaped piece of land along one of Edmonton's busiest corridors. The plot has been empty for decades, but even councillors are wondering what will be built there. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports.

The City of Edmonton is in talks to sell a grassy berm that sat empty along Gateway Boulevard for decades.

The land in question stretches about five city blocks to the east of Gateway Boulevard, just north of 34 Avenue.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the city said they could not disclose details of who the potential buyer is but did say their proposal is in alignment with the current zoning. The land is currently zoned as a highway corridor which primarily allows for retail development.

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Area Councillor Mike Nickel said he wasn’t sure what could be built on the long, narrow plot.

“They gotta be pretty creative on that site given that it’s a major arterial and right behind it is a container yard,” Nickel explained.

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One urban designer said he would like to see a development more innovative than the big box stores that currently line Gateway Boulevard.

“It’s often an example of what not to do as a gateway and a corridor into the city. So it has a reputation and it’s not a good one,” said Harold Madi, founding principal of Urbanism by Design.

Instead, he believes the city could create a more welcoming corridor with a mixed-use development including underground parking. A mobility corridor with paths and trails for pedestrians and cyclists would also be possible, similar to a path in New York City called The High Line, which was born from a design competition.

“Why wouldn’t the city, just as part of an exercise given that it’s there and available, do an ideas competition? Just to get it out there,” Madi said.

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Nickel admitted city council doesn’t have much say over the project.

“We can only regulate land use. We can’t say if retail is appropriate or not or an over concentration of that. So if they can make it work and make sense and it’s zoned retail, they can build it,” Nickel explained.

The listing contained several conditions of sale, including that the buyer must start construction within one year of the sale closing. Construction would have to be complete within three years.

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Whoever buys the property would also have to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.