New plans unveiled for expanded Ice District

Proposed plans to expand the Ice District north of Rogers Place could mean another 10,000 people living downtown.

Phase 2 could include ten towers of residential and commercial use

Artist's renderings of what Phase 2 of the Ice District could look like. (Supplied)

Proposed plans to expand the Ice District north of Rogers Place could bring another 10,000 residents to the downtown core. 

Plans for the second phase of the project were unveiled for the first time at a public consultation in Edmonton Tuesday.

Phase 2 encompasses the neighbourhood between 101st and 105th streets, and between 105th and 106th avenues.

Right now that area includes surface parking as well as Boyle Street Community Services and the historic but run-down Macdonald Lofts.

The proposed development envisions between seven and 10 towers with 3,000 housing units.

There would also be room for some commercial and retail space, along with a park and other amenities for residents in the area.

Towers could be as high as 30 storeys

The intention is to create a large scale urban village in the area, with some of the towers as tall as 30 storeys, said Glen Scott, president of Katz Group Real Estate.

The Ice District is a joint venture between the Katz Group and ONE Properties.

"As you move away from Rogers Place towards 107th Avenue, the size and the scale would diminish," he said.

The housing units would include a mix of affordable, student, and seniors housing, he said.

"The goal is to make it accessible to everyone."

The development could be an exciting addition to the downtown, said Ian O'Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, who attended Tuesday's open house.

"It's going to bring a lot of people downtown," he said. "It's going to bring new jobs and income downtown which would obviously trickle down into spending and hotels and restaurants and hospitality and certainly create a very different environment than what we have now with some of the surface parking lots."

Future of homeless shelter uncertain

Glen Scott said he doesn't know what will happen to Boyle Street Community Services, an organization that provides shelter and support for the homeless and people living in poverty.

"We've had many meetings with them and will continue to work with them as a good neighbour," he said.

"We don't have the legal or moral ability to incorporate Boyle Street," he said. "We can only speak with Boyle Street. They own their own property, they own their own building, they run their own business."

Boyle Street Community Services sits in the neighbourhood where Phase 2 would be developed. (Facebook)

Julian Daly, executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, said his organization wants to be a part of the new development.

"I've always believed that all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status can live together in community, that makes for a richer city and that's what I'd like to see in Edmonton," he said. "So, no, we wouldn't want to move."

Daly said the group is examining its options for the future, which could include a move to another site in the inner city.

"Nothing has been decided and nothing has been funded and there's been no investment in that yet so, absolutely, for the time being, we're intending on staying here."

Macdonald Lofts to be preserved

Ice District Joint Venture does own the Macdonald Lofts, which it bought late last year.

After Alberta Health Services declared several of the units unfit for human habitation, ICE District Joint Venture gave residents there one year to find alternative housing.

"We've transitioned a great deal of the people out at great expense to the joint venture to get them into much more better housing and we continue to intend to want to do that for the remaining residents," Glen Scott said.

"Then when we have a chance to understand the shape of the building and the like, we can actually figure out what we want to do with it.

Macdonald Lofts does have a historic designation from the City of Edmonton so any changes to it will have to be approved by the city.

"We intend to preserve the historical nature of it," he said.

Scott said, the next step will be for the Ice District Joint Venture to apply to the city to change zoning in the area to allow the development, once the public consultations are finished.

He says if all goes according to plan, development of Phase 2 could start next year.

About the Author

Nola Keeler

Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.