Long-delayed Stadium Shopping Centre redevelopment may soon get underway

The developer behind the Stadium Shopping Centre redevelopment project says it now aims to build it in phases starting early next year.

Community is anxious to see construction start now that site is nearly empty

The redevelopment of Stadium Shopping Centre in northwest Calgary may soon be underway, after years of planning. (Google Maps)

The long-delayed redevelopment of Stadium Shopping Centre in northwest Calgary could soon be underway.

Developer Western Securities says it's faced a myriad of setbacks, including tariffs on materials, higher than expected construction costs as well as daunting office vacancy rates.

The redevelopment plans have been in the works for years and include a hotel, medical centre, office and residential buildings, along with restaurants and retail shops.

But now the company hopes to move forward by building the project in phases, rather than all at once.

"I would say that the economy in Calgary has been a bit of a challenge as well, but we believe we have a great location and a great site to build something even in a down market. So our intention is to just move forward regardless but with a bit of a different overall scale of the project," said Mike Bescia, vice president and partner of Western Securities.

Bescia says the company plans to apply for a building permit later this year that would allow for construction of the medical office building, a residential tower, retail shops and some other infrastructure.

He says the company is committed to the entire project, just not all at once.

"It's obviously taking longer than we'd like but we want to ensure we deliver a great project. So that's what we're working through."

Most businesses have closed

Most of the businesses within the shopping plaza have already closed their doors and found new locations. The Keg served its last customers on Saturday. It is opening a new location in Market Mall next month.

Three businesses remain, including a Vietnamese restaurant, a Goodwill drop-off donation centre and a bar, Moose Maguires.

The general manager of Moose Maguires says it is somewhat challenging trying to operate when when staff and customers don't know when the doors will shut for good at this site. 

"One of our more common phone calls is wondering if we're still open and operational which we obviously are, we're actually a busy place, so its just a matter of getting the word out," said Kevin Hammond.

Kevin Hammond is the general manager of Moose Maguires, which remains open for now. He hopes the bar can stay open through the first phase of construction on the Stadium Shopping Centre redevelopment. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Hammond says the developer gave them permission to put up signs along 16th Avenue N.W. to let people know they're still open, for now.

"We're just trying to really showcase we're still here, we're still operational and we look to be here for a while."

The surrounding community had been opposed to the project initially, over concerns about traffic and density problems. But the president of the University Heights community association says now that the city has put in a traffic circle and a bus rapid transit line in the area, those concerns have been eased. 

Residents eager for project to move ahead

In fact, Peter Khu says, residents are eager to see the project move forward so they will have access to more restaurants, pharmacies and other shops.

"We'd like to see something rather than having to wait a few more years," said Khu.

"I think that would be unfortunate if the site were to remain empty and have derelict buildings on site, so certainly moving ahead in phases is preferable for our community from our point of view."

Western Securities hopes to  begin construction on phase one by the first quarter of 2020.

It's still not sure when the remaining businesses would have to leave nor when the other parts of the project would get built.


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