The character of Calgary’s historic Inglewood community is unique within the city.
“The character is a small town,” Nick Clark, owner of Spot Power, told Global News. “You can walk down the street and the merchant or someone that owns a small business will be standing in the doorway, and you can chat and have a coffee. And there’s a lot of people on the street.”
But three news buildings being proposed have developers wanting to build them higher than the current limit for the area of roughly six storeys.
One proposal from RNDSQR — “Block” — intends to build up to 12 storeys high, with a lattice of what looks like wood and steel draped over glass.
Hungerford Properties’ “Edison” reduced its planned height by one story following public consultations. And “Louis on 9th” from Landstar matched lines from nearby buildings, following public consultations.
Some residents and businesses in the 145-year-old neighbourhood are concerned that these new buildings could forever change the area’s “small town feel.”
The Inglewood Community Association’s online petition to keep the look and feel of Calgary’s oldest community has gathered more than 15,000 signatures.
“As far as enhancing Calgary’s original and, really, only heritage district, it’s a question of being sympatico and sensitive to what we have,” L.J. Robertson, the association’s director of inner city planning and heritage, told Global News on Friday.
“We feel that the impact to the general feel of the street is obviously out of sync with what we have. There’s a street character that’s in place. As soon as one puts up towers, you essentially have got a mass thing that is out of sync with the streetscape.”
Urban planning experts agree that four to six storeys is an ideal height for adding density to the neighbourhood, and that shadows cast by taller towers could take away precious sunlight in the winter.
A University of Calgary assistant professor of planning and urban design said the look of newer buildings in old neighbourhoods usually fall along a range.
“You want to replicate what it was before, and that becomes very fake in a way. It’s not authentic. It doesn’t reflect the times of development,” Francisco Alaniz Uribe said.
“And then there is the other extreme where you just ignore completely the heritage. I think it needs to be somewhere in the middle.”
In a statement to Global News, RNDSQR said their proposal fits the city’s vision for Inglewood being transit-oriented.
“Development of the scale and type proposed with RNDSQR Block makes good planning and design sense for strategic transit-oriented locations within Inglewood,” the statement read.
Robertson is concerned that, if all of the proposed developments were to go through, 9 Avenue S.E. would turn into a wind tunnel and lose the village-like feeling that draws people from all over the city to visit.
“There would be a loss of that kind of village walk, very pedestrian-friendly passage along our main street, which is one of the main reasons that people from all over Calgary come here,” Robertson said, noting the production of the Fargo TV series in the neighbourhood.
“It’s something that’s very special and unique and that really does draw people from not just the other portions of Calgary. I was speaking to people from Vancouver yesterday, and Edmonton.
“This is a big draw for Calgary. It’s a heritage district.“