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Massive downtown Calgary development proposed along Stephen Avenue

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A massive new development called Stephen Avenue Quarter has been proposed for downtown Calgary. If the project moves forward, it would span almost an entire city block. Adam MacVicar reports. – May 10, 2022

A proposed development in downtown Calgary could see both the landscape of the city’s skyline and Stephen Avenue undergo a big change, if it receives regulatory approval.

Commercial real estate advisory and capital firm Triovest submitted an application for a development permit for the massive build, which will take up the majority of a city block at Centre Street and 1st Street S.W. between 7 Avenue and 8 Avenue S.W.

It’s called Stephen Avenue Quarter and will include retail shops, office space, a hotel, rental and condo units, as well as five levels of underground parking.

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“Our approach to real estate has always been to improve and enhance properties to achieve their full potential. This approach includes a robust exploration of potential community, social, and economic benefits,” Triovest vice-president of marketing and corporate communications Ryan Schott said in a statement. “As we look to develop mixed-use options for businesses, residents and visitors in downtown Calgary, we have applied for a development permit and land use amendment with the City of Calgary for the 100 block of Stephen Avenue.”

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“We are excited to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Calgary through the execution of this world-class development which celebrates the historic fabric of Stephen Avenue and opens the door to Calgary’s vibrant future,” Schott’s statement went on to say.

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The development will include three towers on top of a multi-storey podium: a 24-storey office tower, a 54-storey rental tower and a 66-storey condo tower, which would be the largest skyscraper in western Canada.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the major development application is a sign the city’s downtown core is recovering.

“Private investment coming in and taking a chance on our city is a very big deal,” Gondek said. “I’m interested in exploring this further and seeing what it’s all about.”

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Development permit documents show the podium will wrap around much of the block, which includes 15 heritage buildings listed on the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources.

According to Heritage Calgary, seven of those buildings have historic designation.

Triovest’s Stephen Avenue Quarter looking south from 7 Avenue S.W.

The proposed architectural plans for Stephen Avenue Quarter show much of the buildings on 7 Avenue S.W. being torn down to make way for the project.

Those documents also show many of the facades of the heritage buildings on Stephen Avenue remaining as part of the development.

Triovest’s Stephen Avenue Quarter looking north from 8 Avenue S.W.

Heritage Calgary said it plans to meet with the developer to learn more about the project and its impact on any heritage elements in the area.

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“The retention of the facades is, as far as we can see, the only remaining heritage elements,” Heritage Calgary CEO Josh Traptow told Global News. “I think (we’re) trying to understand how they came to that conclusion.”

The area councillor also has questions about the impact on the heritage buildings, as well as vibrancy with the streetscape around the development.

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“This is something I take pride in — our history and our heritage — and we don’t want to lose that,” Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said. “We’ve seen a number of implementations where that has been done very effectively, but at the same time building very modern, contemporary buildings.”

Wong said the development application raises the confidence of industry that Calgary is a thriving city that welcomes investment.

The building is designed by local firm Gibbs Gage Architects.

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Although Gondek is encouraged by the development permit application from Triovest, she said the project has a long way to go before it comes before the city’s planning commission and then council as a whole.

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“We are starting the process of reviewing this file and what it can look like for the future of downtown and Calgary, so I’m excited about that,” Gondek said. “I remain open-minded that the applicant has done a lot of work and administration, as well as the urban design review panel, will do their work as well. I’m looking forward to what comes to (council).”

Triovest has not announced a timeline for the development and public engagement on the project has just begun.

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