When City Council voted in 2009 to shut down the Edmonton City Centre (Blatchford Field) Airport, they knew it would unlock a massive swath of land with tremendous redevelopment potential. The phased closure of the airport saw the last plane taking off on November 30, 2013, and with that, 86 years after operations began, the runways went silent. But work on determining the site's next use was just beginning. Creating a functioning and thriving urban neighbourhood takes time, and Edmonton's inspiring plans for the property will need patience in order to be realized.
The City has finally released a detailed plan and splashy new renderings that provide us with a glimpse into the future of what's being hailed as one of the world's largest sustainable communities. To be developed in stages, the completion of the plan for the first phase has been met with excitement and anticipation. "In addition to our high environmental goals, City Council’s vision for Blatchford has always been to create a walkable neighbourhood with enhanced urban design, family-oriented housing, urban agriculture, community amenities, and significant green space," said Mayor Don Iveson. "The stage one map showcases how purposeful and deliberate design of these elements are being incorporated to provide residents with a great quality of life."
The first residential stage will be located on the west side of the site and include about 250 townhomes and a slew of low- and mid-rise condominiums and apartments. The new neighbourhood will feature separated bicycle lanes, pedestrian and cyclist access to the LRT station, urban gardens, fruit orchards with rainwater harvesting systems, and an amplified landscaping program. Tree-lined boulevards and laneways will pierce through the property, providing routes to and from community gathering places. Once an extensive energy strategy has been approved, the homebuilder for the project will be selected.
Renderings display a wide variety of public gathering places for all seasons, including a skating area, fire pit, and children's playground. These active and passive spaces will largely be situated around the preserved air traffic control tower, which will serve as a prominent reminder of the site's rich history. Other heritage elements like recycled runway benches will be incorporated into the public realm. Future phases will bring a retail-heavy town centre, vibrant civic plaza, and expansive green spaces, wetlands, and trails. As underground utility work, building removal, and remediation progress, reports being prepared will outline how Blatchford aims to achieve an ambitious goal of carbon neutrality and 100 percent renewable energy.
Additional images and information can be found in the Database file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion or share your photos? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
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