Calgary

East Village gas station slated for demolition

While Simmons Mattress factory in the East Village has been restored, along with the King Eddy Hotel and the St. Louis, days are numbered for a vintage gas station still operating in the neighbourhood.

Opened in 1952, the Can Pro gas station has operated for 64 years

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation has purchased the Can Pro gas station for an undisclosed sum. (James Young/CBC)

The Simmons Mattress factory in the East Village has been restored, along with the King Eddy Hotel and the St. Louis.

However, days are numbered for a vintage gas station still operating in the neighbourhood.

Opened in 1952, the Can Pro gas station is slated to be demolished so the site can be developed.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is in the process of buying the property and senior vice-president Susan Veres joined The Homestretch host Doug Dirks to talk about what that will mean for the future of the site.

Q: I'm trying to picture this gas station, where is it exactly?

It's right at the corner of 4th Street S.E. and 8th Avenue, so if you are familiar with the new National Music Centre it would be on the block immediately north. It's a very tiny building. It was opened in 1952 as a transport service centre — that was a fancy name for a gas station — but it was definitely part of the post-war auto boom that saw dozens of these little stations popping up around the city.

Q: Can you describe what it looks like?

It would be a storey-and-a-half to two storeys, it's a very tiny building, I would call it perhaps 10,000 square feet on those two floors. It has one curved side and the rest is like a box, it simply looks like a gas station with a curved side.

Q: Why is it still there with all the development going on around it in the East Village?

That's a great question and one for the owners. The current owners purchased this business in 1988 so they've been operating there for 28 years or so. As we started this project in '08 and '09, and we were buying land to enable the East Village Master Plan, we went to them and asked if they were interested in selling their site then, but they held out until now. There's development all around them, they're highly compressed ... but really it's just not the proper use for that corner any longer.

Q: How did you go about acquiring the land?

It's a straight forward purchase and sale agreement. We go to the owner and negotiate the value. We started chatting in the spring of this year about their interest in selling and this was the year they decided it was time to go. So through negotiation we came up with a price.

Opened in 1952, the Can Pro gas station in East Village is slated to be demolished. (James Young/CBC)

Q: So what are the plans for the building?

If there's remediation needed we're going to learn that in the next short while and if that's the case, we have to remediate properly, then we'll take the building down. It's an active gas station so there's some tanks we have to deal with and other things, so there will be some cleanup there that is required. But the truth is that parcel of land will be assembled with other land on the south side of 8th Avenue and we imagine a larger, mixed-use project there.

Q: So based on design and location there's no historical value to try and preserve?

We pay a lot of attention to historical assets, you named some of them, the Simmons Building, the Hillier Block, the King Eddy, the St. Louis. We've spent a lot of time and money re-invigorating some of these old assets. This building has no designated historical merit, there's nothing through our research that denotes it as a historical asset. If there are thing we'll remove them and perhaps we can use them in other developments.

Q: What's the timeline on this?

The actual purchase and sale transaction isn't even completed yet, it won't be completed until the end of November, first of December. Then we'll go in and assess what, if any, remediation has to happen and we'll do that work in the first quarter of next year, then we'll get ready to sell the land, likely not until early 2018.


With files from The Homestretch

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