Edmonton

Proposed Jasper Avenue towers would displace historic apartment building

A huge development proposed for downtown Edmonton’s main drag could house thousands of people and add two new towers to the city’s skyline.

El Mirador and Anthem bar among tenants that could be displaced by development

A development proposed for Jasper Avenue and 108th Street would include about 1,000 residential units. (108 Street and Jasper Avenue Design Brief/City of Edmonton)

A huge development proposed for downtown Edmonton's main drag could house thousands of people and add two new towers to the city's skyline.

The development would sit on the northeast corner of Jasper Avenue and 108th Street, displacing commercial and residential buildings like Anthem bar, the El Mirador apartment building and a Money Mart.

Community members learned more about the proposed rezoning Wednesday afternoon at an engagement session at the First Presbyterian Church downtown.

"We're hoping to help revitalize the area," said Kevin McKee, CEO of Pangman Development Corporation, which is managing the rezoning application.

"It would create demand for services on the street, for restaurants, for all kinds of different retail opportunities."

The footprint of the proposed development. (108 Street and Jasper Avenue Design Brief/City of Edmonton)

A mid-rise building would connect the two towers, 35 and 45 storeys. The ground floor would be retail space, while the rest of the development would be home to about 1,000 rental and condominium units.

"We don't have enough good quality rental," said Ian O'Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business association. "We want to make sure that people have those options. And more people are looking to live centrally."

Community members attended a public information session about the proposed rezoning on Wednesday afternoon. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

O'Donnell said he's impressed by the quality of the project's design, which incorporates access to the Corona LRT station

"[It] certainly is a development that you could see in a Toronto or a Vancouver or a Montreal," he said. "So the bar has been raised, and we certainly want to see more of these types of developments."

The site sits next to the space on 107th Street where a recently approved downtown park will be developed.

"Having the city park adjacent to the project provides an opportunity for individuals, couples, families to have some green space really close to their home," McKee said.

El Mirador a historic resource

Both McKee and O'Donnell said they haven't yet heard from those that currently occupy the project space.

One of them, El Mirador, was built in 1935 and has a Spanish colonial revival style not commonly seen in Alberta. The building is on Edmonton's inventory of historic resources, which lists significant sites, but doesn't provide official historic designation.

The El Mirador apartment building is on the city's inventory of historic resources. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Benjamin Vazquez moved into the El Mirador four months ago after falling in love with the building's architecture.

"It is completely unique in Western Canada," he said. "It's really interesting and exciting that we have such an excellent example of this style, this far north."

Vazquez is hoping the building, or at least part of it, can be preserved.

"I think there's very real possibilities for a solution here that leaves Edmonton's heritage intact and leaves a really, really exciting development on the corner of Jasper and 108th," he said.

Current project plans see the El Mirador getting torn down, McKee said.

"We've looked at a number of different development options to try to incorporate the building into the proposed development and … we haven't been able to make it work," McKee said.

"I think the significance of the El Mirador is its front courtyard and a place to meet. And we believe that our development will help recreate that and enhance that ability for people to meet and create a sense of place."

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