Edmonton

Edmonton city council rejects developer's bid for bigger Holyrood complex

Edmonton city council has turned down a developer’s bid to build a bigger, taller complex at an already controversial development in Holyrood. 

Regency Developments wanted to add 450 more units to Holyrood Gardens project

Council rejected Regency Developments' application to expand the size of its Holyrood Gardens project at 83rd Street and 93rd Avenue. (City of Edmonton)

Edmonton city council has turned down a developer's bid to build a bigger, taller complex at an already controversial development in the Holyrood neighbourhood.

Regency Developments wanted to add another 450 residential units to its future Holyrood Gardens mixed-use development at 83rd Street and 93rd Avenue.

The company had been approved to build 1,200 units but wanted to increase that to 1,650. 

Regency's revised pitch also included 600 two-bedroom suites, up from 450. 

The city had approved the company's application in July 2018 after lengthy public debate on size and aspects such as green space and traffic. 

After Tuesday's public hearing, city council rejected Regency's bid to increase the size. 

Several residents joined the hearing to express frustration with the renewed application. 

'Making it worse'

Dave Sutherland, a member of the Holyrood Community League's development committee, said the changes would mean less green space, less space between buildings and more pressure on traffic and roads.  

"Larger, wider buildings aren't improving the design, but in fact making it worse," Sutherland said.  

The revised application changed the shape of two buildings on the north side of 93rd Avenue.

Coun. Ben Henderson said the community had fought for more space between buildings and more green space. 

"Those were all things that were part of what were negotiated to try to get everybody on board three years ago," Henderson said.

Raj Dhunna, chief operating officer of Regency Developments, said the company started building one tower last April.

Dhunna said the company is trying to adapt to the economic realities of COVID-19 and low oil prices.

He said the original design pitched in 2017 included 1,800 units. 

Jaime Forster, chair of the community league's development committee, said the committee fought to change the original design, so that buildings would be farther apart, with pathways to let more light in. 

"Those active mode pathways would become more crowded, more dark, more shaded" if the revised plan application were to go ahead, she said.

Council agreed that Regency will be able to make minor adjustments to the plan, such as an open parking concept. 

The company will also look at improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users, by strengthening the connection between the Transit Plaza and the neighbourhood to the east.

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