Edmonton

Edmonton council gives thumbs up to 80-storey Alldritt Tower

In a 7-5 decision, Edmonton city council voted in favour Wednesday of amending several zoning bylaws to allow an 80-storey tower to be built on Jasper Avenue, next to the Shaw Convention Centre.

The tower would be the tallest building in Edmonton by a long shot

An artist's rendering of an 80-storey condo tower proposed for the Quarters in downtown Edmonton. (Kennedy Architects)

In a 7-5 decision, Edmonton city council voted in favour Wednesday of amending several zoning bylaws to allow an 80-storey tower to be built on Jasper Avenue, next to the Shaw Convention Centre.

While it's a "neat design," Coun. Scott McKeen said, he voted against the project arguing it felt like the city was rushing with this development.

"One public open house for a project of this scale?" asked McKeen, pointing to the significant amount of public engagement around the downtown arena project. 

"This is not the size of the arena," he said. "But it is a very big and very complex project, and the one public open house did not hit the mark."

Describing it as a "bold proposal," Coun. Michael Walters said he couldn't support it. "I think it's significantly out of scale with the river valley at the point where it is being proposed," he said.

The main concern for Mayor Don Iveson, who also voted against the project, is that the application changes the use of the land involved from public park to private space.

He made a comparison with New York City, questioning if that city would sell a patch of Central Park across the street from Harlem, in order to jump-start development. "I think not," said Iveson.

Speaking in support of the development, several councillors said this project could be a much-needed catalyst for development in The Quarters.

"To me this is a city-building project," said Coun. Dave Loken. "It's about the future and what we leave for younger Edmontonians."

"This development is not perfect, but on balance I think it's worthwhile," said Coun. Michael Oshry, who voted in support of the development.

"There has been a history of development in the river valley and it's been appropriate development," said Oshry, pointing at the Shaw Conference Centre as one example.

"This is downtown," he said. "Downtown along the river valley has development, and it should have development."
An artists' rendering of the terraced gardens below the proposed 80-storey Alldritt tower development above Louise McKinney Park. (Kennedy Architects)

Councillors heard from a total of 41 speakers during 14 hours of public hearings into the rezoning of the land.

The first 12 presenters were in favour of the plan and consisted mostly of representatives involved in the project and real estate developers.

Many of the remaining 29 speakers raised concerns about the shadow the tall building would cast, especially during the winter months.

That view is immeasurably valuable. You can't put a dollar value on it.- Penny Lightfoot

Others wondered how approving this development might open the door to further development in the river valley.

"If you build it, what will follow?" asked Heather Swain, describing the tower as an "80-storey sky robber."

"In 100 years it won't be the only tower," she added.

Following the vote, Penny Lightfoot said she was disappointed. "I'm a strong proponent of the river valley," Lightfoot said. 

"People spoke very eloquently to that as a treasured resource that just simply shouldn't be developed," she said.

"That view is immeasurably valuable. You can't put a dollar value on it."

At this point, neither can Alldritt Developments, according to project architect Brad Kennedy.

The sale prices for the condominiums that will be part of the tower haven't been determined yet, said Kennedy.

The first order of business is demolition of the pink and blue buildings on the site.

"Then, as soon as this summer there's going to be this interim park," he said. 

"We've got a two-day meeting happening next week to get all of the preparations rolling with a massive team to get this project done."

The earliest date to get shovels in the ground would be 2018, or 2019, added Kennedy.

How they voted

In favour:

  • Tony Caterina
  • Dave Loken
  • Michael Oshry
  • Bryan Anderson
  • Mike Nickel
  • Ed Gibbons
  • Moe Banga

Against:

  • Don Iveson
  • Ben Henderson
  • Scott McKeen
  • Michael Walters
  • Andrew Knack

Absent:

  • Bev Esslinger