Eau Claire condo project's street purchase plan raises concerns

A developer behind an ambitious plan to reshape two blocks in Eau Claire is asking the city to sell it the street that bisects the site.

Property developer wants to purchase a stretch of 5th Street S.W. to integrate it as part of a roadway plaza

A developer behind an ambitious plan to reshape two blocks in Eau Claire is asking the city to sell it the street that bisects the site. 2:01

A developer behind an ambitious plan to reshape two blocks in Eau Claire is asking the city to sell it the street that bisects the site.

BCIMC Realty Corporation wants to build a mixed-use residential, retail and commercial development where a pair of parking lots currently occupy two blocks between Sixth Street and Fourth Street from Eau Claire Avenue to Second Avenue S.W.

BCIMC Realty Corp. wants to develop the two surface parking lots on either side of Fifth Street S.W. in Eau Claire with condos, retail and offices, incorporating the street as a plaza with "improved pedestrian mobility." (Google Maps)

The developer wants to buy the stretch of Fifth Street between the two lots, integrating the roadway into the development but also "providing a more pedestrian orientated characteristic,” a city document states.

Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell, who supports the plan, says the block would still be open to drivers but Calgarians will get a better streetscape.

“The street and the pedestrian realm and the street furniture and the buildings all mesh together. It's really beautiful and very high quality,” she said.

But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he doesn't like giving up a block-long stretch of city street, essentially making it like a road in a suburban shopping area.

“We don't have public control over them. But we have to be able to figure a way that we can make sure the needs of the residents and the rest of the community, especially on a downtown street, are met,” he said.

City council has voted to give the application for land use redesignation first reading, but final approval is on hold until all the access agreements are worked out.

Architectural drawings depict the planned transformation of two surface parking lots in Eau Claire between Sixth Street and Fourth Street S.W. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

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