wolvie

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Messages
50
Reaction score
277
The only saving grace when viewing the 7ave north side stretch is the Telus sky building but even then its not an interesting view on the ctrain station ground level.
With this new building proposal this 7th avenue stretch will be a dark corridor with no human scale feel to it, it would be nice to have something to relate to on this stretch.
 

outoftheice

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Aug 19, 2017
Messages
448
Reaction score
2,565
City:
Aarhus
I think it's important to remember ( or realize) that at one point all of Stephen Avenue was relatively derelict, or at least shabby, and it was a concerted restoration effort to make it the space it is today.

Extremely important point. One wonders what could happen to downtown vibrancy if the City of Calgary had spent $40 million restoring the heritage buildings along 7th into usable retail, restaurant and artist spaces instead of giving it to major institutional property developers to convert high rises to residential units? I'm willing to bet it would do more for street life vitality and drawing people to the area than adding another couple hundred residential units.
 

DougB

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
460
Reaction score
853
City:
Perth
Block is demolished and robbed of all activity

"Who cares, there's plenty of blocks left"

Block is demolished and robbed of all activity

"Who cares, there's plenty of blocks left"

Block is demolished and robbed of all activity

"Who cares, there's plenty of blocks left"

Block is demolished and robbed of all activity

"Who cares, there's was barely any left and what's left isn't worth saving.
That section of 7th has been deader than dead since the CTrain took over 7th. As a 8-9 year old, I would skip class and take the 3 bus DT to hang out at video arcades. That section of 7th had three arcades at its peak. The rest of the street as well as the adjacent section of 8th had a high concentration of what we used to call "Head Shops", basically stores selling Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin memorabilia, marijuana accessores, lava lamps etc. It started to decline around 1981 and was devoid of life by about 1985. The CTrain was only one factor (early 80's recession, opening of Oxford Square (later known as TD Square and then The Core) also contributed), but it seemed to be the one that pushed 7th over the edge. I held hope that redesign of the CTrain corrdior (ex. removing the narrow, high platforms) would liven up 7th, but it didn't.

Providing pedestrian passage between 7th and 8th might help bring more activity to 7th. Most important will be a podium design on 7th and 8th that doesn't impose over the streets.

Maybe the City should use this as an opportunity to construct part of the Stephen Ave subway. Sounds like this project will excavate a large parking garage. The incremental cost of a CTrain tunnel would likely be small. More excavation will occur with Arts Central expansion and possibly with an Olympic Plaza revamp, and the Green Line. The City should look at buiding the tunnel from the Municipal Building to at least 2nd Street and the interchange with the Green Line.
 
Last edited:

darwink

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
2,492
Reaction score
7,588
Wouldn't the fact that this proposal requires repeal of at least two bylaws give the City additional leverage in this case? I'm not very well versed in the machinations of municipal government:

48M2014
11M98

It's obviously in the City's interest to see this project proceed but I think modifications to the design to retain as many of the buildings as possible (in full) would both serve the public interest and ultimately make for a better development.
Depends if admin's finding of:
1652289427248.png

Holds. Since the designations of the 7th Ave side may have been passed in the context of the parkade approval (the timeline fits), which was then rejected by the SDAB. So, the entire thing may be unwound. The 8th Ave side seems stronger, hence the applicant going further on that side.
 

DougB

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
460
Reaction score
853
City:
Perth
Could this be a new Canada's tallest?

Also, I can never keep clear which Mannix brother owns what. Which one owns each of: 1) Hyatt Hotel, 2) Keynote, 3) former Nexen Building?

Regardless, they must have considerable confidence in the long term potential of DT to propose a project that could cannibalize their existing investments
 

darwink

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 7, 2016
Messages
2,492
Reaction score
7,588
Extremely important point. One wonders what could happen to downtown vibrancy if the City of Calgary had spent $40 million restoring the heritage buildings along 7th into usable retail, restaurant and artist spaces instead of giving it to major institutional property developers to convert high rises to residential units? I'm willing to bet it would do more for street life vitality and drawing people to the area than adding another couple hundred residential units.
Bingo bango.
 

Surrealplaces

Administrator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
10,472
Reaction score
44,140
City:
Calgary

JoeUrban

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 25, 2017
Messages
342
Reaction score
842
City:
Calgary
Depends if admin's finding of:
View attachment 399737
Holds. Since the designations of the 7th Ave side may have been passed in the context of the parkade approval (the timeline fits), which was then rejected by the SDAB. So, the entire thing may be unwound. The 8th Ave side seems stronger, hence the applicant going further on that side.
This will be the interesting battle. The point of designation is that at some point an owner proposes it and then it is meant to be permanent. Removal when the next owner shows up defeats the entire purpose and being that the next owner buys the property knowing about the restriction there is not really any hardship argument.

Technicalities will be brought up, but again the entire point of designation is protection from future arguments about technicalities. The fact the designating owner had a plan that fell through should be irrelevant since the point of designation is protection, not development plan facilitating, that is just a useful side effect that may occur.
 

YourBoy007

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 4, 2020
Messages
277
Reaction score
985
Beggers can't be choosers.

Having issues with the design is OK, but I think many people are missing the most important component of this development and that is it's adding much needed density we've all been begging for. The current businesses and historic buildings along 8th Ave are nice, however it's still a ghost town most of the time. They aren't exactly flourishing with people. Even on their busiest of times, it's rather lame compared to other cities/countries. Renovating them would do very little to increase foot traffic and increase business. Furthermore, they are keeping the church and BMO bank so that's good. And the historic buildings along 7th are toast anyway and aren't worth keeping or investing money into.

Density first and foremost. Unfortunately you can't just ask them to put it on an empty parking lot on another plot of land.
 

JoeUrban

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 25, 2017
Messages
342
Reaction score
842
City:
Calgary
Beggers can't be choosers.

Having issues with the design is OK, but I think many people are missing the most important component of this development and that is it's adding much needed density we've all been begging for. The current businesses and historic buildings along 8th Ave are nice, however it's still a ghost town most of the time. They aren't exactly flourishing with people. Even on their busiest of times, it's rather lame compared to other cities/countries. Renovating them would do very little to increase foot traffic and increase business. Furthermore, they are keeping the church and BMO bank so that's good. And the historic buildings along 7th are toast anyway and aren't worth keeping or investing money into.

Density first and foremost. Unfortunately you can't just ask them to put it on an empty parking lot on another plot of land.
Two points:

1) The quality of proposals are going to directly reflect the least effort and quality that council is willing to accept and being that council is the public's representatives it is every resident's right and obligation to make sure their councillor demands the best possible projects and blocks unacceptable ones.

2) What is the pathway to a better downtown of a project that replaces a dense retail street with a massive facade-fronted office building, with residential and hotel just a hopeful later phase years in the future?
 

JonnyCanuck

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Messages
1,487
Reaction score
4,684
City:
Calgary
Could this be a new Canada's tallest?

Also, I can never keep clear which Mannix brother owns what. Which one owns each of: 1) Hyatt Hotel, 2) Keynote, 3) former Nexen Building?

Regardless, they must have considerable confidence in the long term potential of DT to propose a project that could cannibalize their existing investments
Ron Mannix founded Coril Holdings who developed the Hyatt hotel and Keynote. I believe Ron has retired and his sons(nephews?) are running things now. It is probably Coril who is behind the project. As property manager/holder, Triovest has been identified as the applicant. There is a Mannix on the senior management team. The Mannix family have deep roots in Calgary. I don't think many will be displeased with what they are trying to accomplish when it is all said and done. Their goal will be to improve the current state of 8th Ave, making it more of a destination for Calgarians while creating more density and commerce for the downtown. I know saving 'history and heritage' is a hot button for many on this blog but the choices are pretty clear ... either status quo or take what is there and improve on it.
In my mind, status quo is leaving things the way they are which is a revolving door of tenants in those 8th Ave buildings, and hope investors come around to constantly maintain or improve them. For example does anyone think their will ever be improvements made to the building that Winners is in, as long as they are a tenant? Why would anyone sink money into that building? 8th Ave is not going to be an overall destination for the city unless there are developers who have a vision. No question the redevelopments that JoeUrban pictured earlier on some blocks of 7th, 8th and 9th Ave were big fails. Let's wait to see what the final design for this project looks like before we condemn it.
 
Last edited:

CBBarnett

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 22, 2016
Messages
1,261
Reaction score
7,362
After some thought, here's a few specific critiques:

Alley Activation, Pedestrians & Urban Context
The alley is a key opportunity to expand the pedestrian activation from Stephen Ave towards 7th and areas of high traffic to the major towers to the north. A good design would divert some of that pedestrian traffic that would go down Centre Street and open up more off-Stephen opportunities for new bars, restaurants and cafes. This could be a real game-changer - an opportunity for a Melbourne-style lane quirkiness in a corporate tower dominated landscape.

In case anyone wonders if that example could apply here - Melbourne alleys are just as full of over-priced beer and giant office blocks as downtown Calgary so the suits can still get their kicks. Melbourne like every city on the planet deals with dumpsters and truck circulation just like this development will have too. It's a complete fair example of what "could be".

Let's take a step back and remember the urban context - this location is pretty much ground-zero for urban, pedestrian Calgary and will likely remain that way:
  • located on two car-restricted, pedestrian/transit prioritized streets (7th and Stephen Ave) and two light traffic, transit/pedestrian heavy roads of Centre and 1 Street SW
  • has the terminus stops for dozens (i.e. almost all) major bus routes in downtown within blocks
  • within a half block for all existing rapid transit lines and within 2 blocks for the future Greenline subway station
  • Beyond that there is likely 10,000+ publicly accessible parking stalls already existing within 2 blocks of this area with significant under-utilization challenges.
Ground-zero at the heart of a city should have substantial density. Totally fine with big towers/blocks if they are thoughtful. The design seems to be making nods to this type of approach for the alley but looking a bit deeper - is actually fully two-feet in the old, 1980s-style Calgary downtown mega-development.

Despite the density and what I am sure is a generous parking relaxation, the alley and design comes across as still far too focused on vehicle circulation and parking given the context. Five floors of parking for nearly the full block, a bunch of drop-off stalls and two ramps in your activated alley? Seriously? Did we forget that one of the reasons Stephen Ave in the first place is special is because it (usually) is a walkable street?

1652293398058.png



Plus-15...
What are we thinking with this Plus-15 Plan? Plus-15s can be a good thing (although plenty of very fair criticism on how they can bleach out street life by putting pedestrians above). The proposal is just a wild walkway design for a few reasons:
  • It's not integrated into any existing Plus-15, all of it is future connections that may never be built and have dubious value on their own. Future-proofing is smart, but at the expense of permanent alley shadows, sterilize and 2nd floor courtyard uses (e.g. patios) and drawing traffic out of the alley you are trying to activate?
  • It has all that 1980s right-angle infuriated corner madness of some of the existing system. So many awkward blind corners and random hallway widths. Has anyone every walked anywhere before? People don't zig-zag at 90 degree angles.
  • It further crowds the imagined courtyard with low bridges blocking even more sunlight to what is supposed to be some sort of pedestrian-friendly alley.

1652283552980.png


So even before we get into the pros/cons of the heritage stuff what this plan seems to do is propose an active alley and "Stephen Ave extension" then do everything in it's power to ensure it will struggle and not be a good place to be.

Heritage and/or Heritage Replacement
The other example that this proposal can learn from was previously mentioned - the Mirvish Village on Bloor in Toronto (pictures below). They somehow managed to have only 1 parkade/service access ramp, separate the ramp from the alley they are trying to build and then activate, fit 500+ underground parking stalls and 900 units (about the same as this development) on it and retained a bunch of heritage buildings plus added a ton of heritage-like high quality buildings that weren't there before when it was just Honest Ed's. None of the buildings are 65 stories high either. Sure Toronto is a booming market so lots of money for the "nice-to-haves" - but the Stephen Ave proposal is $1B+ easy. It's not money - it's priorities and attention to detail.

I wouldn't nearly as mind losing 7th Avenue's heritage buildings as much if it was replaced with something of high quality, but similarly human scaled. For the Mirvish Village example, the last image below isn't heritage buildings or facades slapped onto the tower - they are all brand new ones just with a perfect understanding of what people like about traditional building scale and materials:

1652294230490.png


1652294272368.png


1652294647529.png
 

JoeUrban

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 25, 2017
Messages
342
Reaction score
842
City:
Calgary
After some thought, here's a few specific critiques:

Alley Activation, Pedestrians & Urban Context
The alley is a key opportunity to expand the pedestrian activation from Stephen Ave towards 7th and areas of high traffic to the major towers to the north. A good design would divert some of that pedestrian traffic that would go down Centre Street and open up more off-Stephen opportunities for new bars, restaurants and cafes. This could be a real game-changer - an opportunity for a Melbourne-style lane quirkiness in a corporate tower dominated landscape.

In case anyone wonders if that example could apply here - Melbourne alleys are just as full of over-priced beer and giant office blocks as downtown Calgary so the suits can still get their kicks. Melbourne like every city on the planet deals with dumpsters and truck circulation just like this development will have too. It's a complete fair example of what "could be".

Let's take a step back and remember the urban context - this location is pretty much ground-zero for urban, pedestrian Calgary and will likely remain that way:
  • located on two car-restricted, pedestrian/transit prioritized streets (7th and Stephen Ave) and two light traffic, transit/pedestrian heavy roads of Centre and 1 Street SW
  • has the terminus stops for dozens (i.e. almost all) major bus routes in downtown within blocks
  • within a half block for all existing rapid transit lines and within 2 blocks for the future Greenline subway station
  • Beyond that there is likely 10,000+ publicly accessible parking stalls already existing within 2 blocks of this area with significant under-utilization challenges.
Ground-zero at the heart of a city should have substantial density. Totally fine with big towers/blocks if they are thoughtful. The design seems to be making nods to this type of approach for the alley but looking a bit deeper - is actually fully two-feet in the old, 1980s-style Calgary downtown mega-development.

Despite the density and what I am sure is a generous parking relaxation, the alley and design comes across as still far too focused on vehicle circulation and parking given the context. Five floors of parking for nearly the full block, a bunch of drop-off stalls and two ramps in your activated alley? Seriously? Did we forget that one of the reasons Stephen Ave in the first place is special is because it (usually) is a walkable street?

View attachment 399751


Plus-15...
What are we thinking with this Plus-15 Plan? Plus-15s can be a good thing (although plenty of very fair criticism on how they can bleach out street life by putting pedestrians above). The proposal is just a wild walkway design for a few reasons:
  • It's not integrated into any existing Plus-15, all of it is future connections that may never be built and have dubious value on their own. Future-proofing is smart, but at the expense of permanent alley shadows, sterilize and 2nd floor courtyard uses (e.g. patios) and drawing traffic out of the alley you are trying to activate?
  • It has all that 1980s right-angle infuriated corner madness of some of the existing system. So many awkward blind corners and random hallway widths. Has anyone every walked anywhere before? People don't zig-zag at 90 degree angles.
  • It further crowds the imagined courtyard with low bridges blocking even more sunlight to what is supposed to be some sort of pedestrian-friendly alley.

View attachment 399717

So even before we get into the pros/cons of the heritage stuff what this plan seems to do is propose an active alley and "Stephen Ave extension" then do everything in it's power to ensure it will struggle and not be a good place to be.

Heritage and/or Heritage Replacement
The other example that this proposal can learn from was previously mentioned - the Mirvish Village on Bloor in Toronto (pictures below). They somehow managed to have only 1 parkade/service access ramp, separate the ramp from the alley they are trying to build and then activate, fit 500+ underground parking stalls and 900 units (about the same as this development) on it and retained a bunch of heritage buildings plus added a ton of heritage-like high quality buildings that weren't there before when it was just Honest Ed's. None of the buildings are 65 stories high either. Sure Toronto is a booming market so lots of money for the "nice-to-haves" - but the Stephen Ave proposal is $1B+ easy. It's not money - it's priorities and attention to detail.

I wouldn't nearly as mind losing 7th Avenue's heritage buildings as much if it was replaced with something of high quality, but similarly human scaled. For the Mirvish Village example, the last image below isn't heritage buildings or facades slapped onto the tower - they are all brand new ones just with a perfect understanding of what people like about traditional building scale and materials:

View attachment 399755

View attachment 399757

View attachment 399764
Sorry I've heard that beggars can't be choosers and we can only accept shit proposals 🤷‍♂️


In all seriousness though, every time there's a weak proposal there always seem to be similar but far better ones elsewhere in Canada staring us right in the face.
 

Top