A major redevelopment plan for Northland Village Mall that would see the somewhat sleepy shopping centre transformed into a mixed-use complex with apartments and office space sailed through city council Monday with nearly unanimous praise.
The project will "hopefully rejuvenate the property," said Don Gregory of Primaris Management Inc., which runs the mall.
"There's great interest in this project from the retail community and we've been able to attract several new retailers to Northland, including Calgary's first Whole Foods grocery store," Gregory told council.
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David Miner, with the architecture and design firm Dialog, described the project as a rare opportunity to make a massive difference to a community through redevelopment.
"I've been doing retail in this city for a long time and this is one I'm really, really excited to see done because it will be a game-changer," he said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he loved the proposal except for one thing — it only includes 65 residential units.
"I would have loved to have seen more residential and building up in this area especially given the transportation," the mayor said.
Gregory said his company is restricted by tax rules to provide rental properties rather than condos for sale, which limits the amount of residential space they are able to provide.
"We have set up the development for the future to add more residential as the market dictates," he said. "But for now we feel it's an adequate amount to satisfy the community and the surrounding area."
While the full build-out of the project is expected to happen "over many years," Coun. Druh Farrell said council's approval of the plan at this stage helps "solidify it into the future."
Coun. Ward Sutherland said he's heard support from nearby community associations in his ward for the project and many people are looking forward to seeing the redevelopment become a reality.
"It's a great plan and hopefully the build-out will occur in a short period of time," he said.
Long-term LRT plan
The city has a long-term plan to add an LRT station nearby, Farrell added, which she said would fit well with the redeveloped mall.
Nenshi asked if Primaris would be willing to financially partner in a new station and transit-oriented development, but Gregory wouldn't commit to that — at least not yet, saying "it's something that really has to grow over time, as the market dictates."
"We certainly believe the LRT station would absolutely benefit the shopping centre and vice versa," Gregory said.
"It's just a question of time and money."