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Major Inglewood development goes up for debate at city hall

Last Updated Jul 27, 2020 at 10:49 am MST

An artist's rendition of a complex proposed to be built in Inglewood. (CREDIT: rndsqrblock.com)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — One of Calgary’s most historic and recognizable districts could look a lot different depending on the results of a development proposal which is coming up for debate at city hall.

The Rndsqr Block would drastically change the looks of 9 Avenue S.E., as the eye-catching structure would rise 12-storeys above the sidewalk — twice the size of the normal limit of six-storeys.

The building would be constructed at the corner of 12 Street, where there is currently a car lot, and incorporate the old CIBC building next door so that it can be preserved as well.

But it has resulted in lots of concern from residents, who worry that it will negatively affect the community for both visitors and those who live there. A petition against the development has gathered thousands of signatures before the debate comes forward to council.

Dan Allard, co-owner of Cold Garden in Inglewood, has been speaking on behalf of the business community, with the Inglewood Business Improvement Area (BIA) also opposed to the development.

“With respect to the vibe that you get when you come to Inglewood and how a 12-storey building might erode that and maybe detract from people wanting to come down,” he said.

The BIA obtained a report on the development by a third party based in Toronto, which also concluded that the project would cause a negative effect to visitors and residents in the community.

Allard said this should help solidify the position they have, as it is not just about their personal opinions.

“So we’ll be trying to evoke that and explain that emotion to councillors so that they can appreciate the risk that we’ll be taking by adding height to 9th Avenue,” he said. “I hope there’s debate about it, I hope they don’t just ignore the report.”

On the other side, the developers of Rndsqr say on their website that the project is in response to the growing demand for flexibility and innovation in the areas of housing, hospitality, workplace and commercial spaces. They envision it as a central piece enticing creativity and culture to the iconic area.

But Allard added that another thing he is confused about is why this and other large-scale proposals are coming forward now before a revised area development plan is completed by the city.

He said they could reconsider the proposal after this ARP is completed, and maybe it could, in the end, entice the developers to just rethink the project slightly to fit with the guidelines.

“It just seems peculiar that we’d be spot-zoning something in the heart of Inglewood, on centre ice, at such a drastically different scale than the neighbourhood when the research isn’t done.”

Even though there are numerous new developments in Inglewood, they have fit with the previous height guidelines and Allard said they are not just opposed to modern construction.

“That’s with zero opposition from the Business Improvement Area, we absolutely encourage bold design and all that good stuff,” he said. “We’re just suggesting why risk the success of the street when we know that the current model works and it’s one of the most vibrant streets in the country.”