There’s already talk of three other Old Strathcona developments to come over the next few years, in the wake of yesterday’s approval by city council for the sixteen storey Mezzo apartment block on 105 street south of Whyte.
That’s what worries critics of city council’s 9-3 vote in favour of the controversial project. “I’m hugely worried about the precedent,” said Coun. Ben Henderson who was visibly upset at the conclusion of the public hearing. “We know that there’s three more coming right next door, there’s another one across the street, and we’ve basically said now, this is fair game.”
Right across the street, is a city owned parking lot. Down Whyte is an old car dealership. And over by Gateway Blvd, is the old CP rail lands.
“That Wheaton car dealership, both the back lot and the portion on Whyte are looking to re-invest which is positive,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “Obviously they’ll have been monitoring this.”
The developer for that, has contracted the same planner as Westoak had for the Mezzo.
“There’s actually four parcels at Southpark,” said Stantec’s Simon O’Byrne. “It’s got two parcels on Whyte avenue, and then two parcels on 81st avenue. So basically the stuff between the alley and Whyte avenue is envisioned as two storey commercial right now that kind of fits in with the architectural character of the area. The stuff between the alley and 81st avenue has been designed with ground floor townhomes and then towers above them.”
He told reporters that plans aren’t final yet, because they’re still working with the public and the design committee.
The project ‘across the street’ as Coun. Henderson put it, is the large city owned parking lot.
“That land that’s immediately south of 81st avenue,” said O’Byrne. “So basically east of the Keg and south of the Legion site, that whole city block there near Bee-Bell which the city of Edmonton owns, and actually tried to sell last year, I think they got quite a number of bidders on it but then as I understand it they decided to pause that at the moment and then rethink what they want to do for the site.”
The CP project was announced in January of last year, a nation wide conversion of it’s holdings called Dream Van Horne Properties, named for one of CP’s first presidents, Sir William Cornelius Van Horne.