August 29, 2013 7:01 pm
Updated: August 29, 2013 8:43 pm

More residential spaces popping up along Whyte Avenue

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EDMONTON- It seems as though times are changing down in Old Strathcona. While the trendy district is still a popular place to visit, shop and eat, there’s now an increased interest in living on the strip.

“There’s a lot of interest in locating to the area,” said Murray Davison, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association.

And it’s not just commercial tenants that are looking to move in. Fuzion on Whyte Avenue is a new condo project nearing completion on 102nd Street.

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“There’s supposed to be 105 condo spaces up above, so that’s great multi-family units. Just a little bit down the block there’s another one proposed that would look like 24 units with about seven retailers on the bottom,” said Davison.

“There are a lot of people that want to be right in the centre of the action and looking forward to it. It’ll be great,” added Ward 11 Councillor Kerry Diotte.

Another piece of land that’s been of particular interest for developers is on the corner of 105th Street and Whyte Avenue, where the Esso gas station used to sit. The business shut down in 1998, but Davison says there may be a sale in the works for the $7 million site.

“We’ve recently talked to a developer who’s been chosen. They’re still going through the final processes to get it confirmed that the sale is final, and at that point we can announce who they are,” Davison teased.

While he wouldn’t say exactly what’s being talked about, Davison says the development is likely to be a mix of retail and residential spaces.

“From initial conversations it would be about a three or four storey space,” he explained. “So they would have residential on top, maybe two or three floors. They’re looking at professional space as well. And then retail, restaurants, more independent shops on the bottom.”

“You get the same kind of example as Vancouver, or places like that where there’s much more density. And density is good, especially around there,” Diotte added.

A recent survey, conducted by an MBA student at the University of Alberta, showed only about 38 per cent of patrons drive to Whyte Ave. As a result, the business association says it’s doing everything it can to make the avenue more pedestrian friendly. Davison believes the move toward more residential spaces along Whyte will help with that initiative, and make the area more sustainable in the long run.

“It also helps change the vibrancy of the area, because with residential comes more restrictions on noise requirements and things like that,” he said. “So I think that’ll help see a change in the area. We’ll have more people frequenting the restaurants and more families walking along the avenue. And making this more pedestrian friendly is going to change that vibe, close the gap between our day and night economies and it’s what we want to see here to be sustainable.”

With files from Laurel Clark, Global News.

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