City council debate on the Emerald went late into Monday evening. In the end, council approved the proposed 45-storey tower on Jasper ave and 114th street, with a vote of 9-4.
The four opposed were Mayor Don Iveson, councillors Andrew Knack, Ben Henderson and Scott McKeen.
For McKeen, a major issue is the buildings three storey above ground parkade in a coloured glass podium. He preferred other designs where the parkade was tucked away near the back, so the street front of the property could look a bit more lively.
“You can imagine maybe a few balconies at the front of the podium then you feel your in a place where there’s people,” says McKeen. “It’s not just a dead building closed for the night.”
The community and City Administration were also against the design of the Emerald.
Director of Planning Coordination with the City of Edmonton Planning Branch, Kalen Anderson may not be excited about the parkade in the podium, but sees the positive in having something in that space of Jasper ave.
“It will bring more commercial opportunities,” says Anderson. “Mostly what it’s doing right now in terms of that street and that space is it’s going to be taking away a blight in that area. A vacant under utilized site right on Jasper Ave, which is not bringing benefit to anybody, not to the city, not to the residents and not to the developer to have an empty site. So seeing that space developed as a high density mixed use tower is absolutely what we want to encourage and facilitate.”
Several councillors tried to send the project back with a three-month deferral, for more work on the podium.