Edmonton city councillors are being asked to approve an incentive fund worth $600,000 to create more investment in The Quarters, a report heading to council’s executive committee reads.
The report calls for a three-year grant to boost commercial properties within the Quarters area in the eastern end of downtown as well as a subsidy for more residential projects.
The Quarters Community Revitalization Levy has been around since 2011 and “has allowed the city to invest $67 million in public infrastructure improvements and has attracted private investment of over $800 million in planned and complete developments,” the report said.
“The projects include Renaissance Tower, The Hat at Five Corners, Edgewater on Jasper and more recent redevelopment projects of Stovel Block, Brighton Block and the Great West Garment Company Building.”
Councillor Scott McKeen has his doubts about coming to the table well after developers invested their money without any incentives.
“Is it fair to other developers if you’re taking one specific area and saying we’ll give ‘X’ number of dollars per door if you build housing here?” he said in an interview with Global News.
“Now if it was a specific type of housing, if there was some other value there being applied, maybe?”
The downtown councillor is bullish on the area east of 97 Street gaining interest and becoming an attraction for investors.
“All things being equal, I think The Quarters will tip. I think it’s going to be one of the more compelling areas to live in the greater downtown, very arts focused, that sort of thing.
“So I’m open to this, but a little bit skeptical of us offering grants to residential development when that has not been our issue in the greater downtown.”
He points to the proposed Alldritt Tower on the edge of the river valley at 95 Street that was approved by city council in April of 2017.
The controversial 80-storey tower survived protests when it was brought to city council for a re-zoning and McKeen said the backers for it are still interested in proceeding.
“If I were them, I would then come hat in hand to the city and say ‘I see you’re giving out a per door grant. Could we have some of that too please?’
“Communications from them to my office is they continue to work away on it, and that we may actually see some evidence of that fairly soon in advertising around sales and that sort of thing.”
The subsidy proposal has the support of the Downtown Business Association, according to the report. It will be debated by Executive Committee on Jan. 13.