Calgary Chinatown development fight heats up
Architect says project won't change neighbourhood or character of community
A Calgary-based architect is defending a proposed development in Chinatown as opposition to it mounts ahead of a city council discussion.
Manu Chugh is the architect behind the application.
He wants to build a 27-storey building on the site of a parking lot that sits between Second and Third Avenue S.W.
The current maximum height allowed in the area is 15 storeys.
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But Chugh says his building won't change the neighborhood.
"That's just a fear. And sometimes you can't address fears," Chugh said.
"It will not lose any character of the Chinatown."
Chugh says the building will be built on a "three-storey podium," meaning it will look like a three-storey building to pedestrians because the rest of the building is set back from the sidewalk.
He says the argument that not enough public consultation has been done isn't accurate.
"I can spend another two years talking to them and they will feel that there hasn't been public consultation. We've been in public consultations since 2014," Chugh said.
A group called I Love YYC Chinatown views the development through a different lens.
Patrick Teoh is a volunteer and he says Chinatown's future is at stake.
"It departs from the current plans that are put in place by the city to protect Chinatown's heritage, cultural vibrancy," Teoh said.
"So this is seeking to put it more in line with the rest of downtown's landscape," he said.
Teoh says Calgarians will have to decide what Chinatown means to them.
'Like putting the Bow Building in Heritage Park'
"If we just see it as a valuable piece of land in a city that is sprawling, yes, of course we want more density but if we see Chinatown as more of a historical and cultural treasure that Calgarians from all backgrounds come to take advantage of, then that is completely different," he said.
"It would be like putting the Bow Building in Heritage Park."
The group is holding a street party this weekend to draw attention to the development and volunteers also plan on holding a rally at city hall on Monday before city council makes a decision.
With files from Andrew Brown