Redevelopment plans for the Eau Claire Market include five towers, 1,000 residential units, 800,000 square feet of office space, and 550,000 square feet for retail.
The ambitious plans by Regina-based Harvard Devlopments Inc. would transform the market into a more vibrant mixed-use area.
“Our plans are to encompass all of the uses that were previously approved on this site. So this is a two-and-a-half-million-square-foot, fully-integrated mixed use project over a three phase development construction,” said Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, managing director of Harvard Buildings Inc. and vice-president of leasing for Harvard Developments Inc.
“We’ll see hotel, apartment, residential and condominiums, office building and a large area of retail.”
She said the developer has been working with the city and various community groups over the last year to come forward with a design. It is gearing up for a land-use application to be submitted before the end of this year or early in 2014 with a development permit following soon after.
Its objective would be to start construction in the fall of 2014 and the entire phased project would take seven to 10 years.
She said the first phase would take place in the southwest portion of the south parking lot and the current shopping centre would remain intact and continue to operate until a future phase of development. The first phase would include a podium with retail and a hotel with potentially condo above and rental apartments.
There would be three towers on the south podium and then two condo towers on the north side at a later date.
The current structure of Eau Claire Market will not come down until the project moves into its third phase in a few years and another structure will be built there to accommodate retail use.
“The Eau Claire Market was an ambitious 1980’s urban development dream that never realized its full potential,” said Michael Kehoe, an Alberta-based retail specialist with Fairfield Commercial Real Estate Inc. “Saddled with an awkward land lease with the City of Calgary and a city whose consumers are dedicated to a suburban lifestyle and regional shopping centres the Market achieved limited acceptance and retail impact.The project was well executed for the most part and situated in an ideal park-like urban setting along the banks of the Bow River with one of the city’s best open public spaces. It was ahead of its time for the Calgary market.
“The stars appear to align for current redevelopment plans at the market site with the Eau Claire district nearing its full potential. Downtown daytime and resident populations are growing and the connectivity to the site with new adjacent office towers will ensure that the project is not an isolated commercial island as in the past. This project, if fully realized will be the final crowning piece in the development puzzle in the north central core area.”
Ken Cutler, owner of The Bean Stop, said his business “is clearly not part of any long-term plans there.”
“The reality is if they get approval for this project Eau Claire Market is going to cease to exist,” said Cutler. The Bean Stop has been at the market since the beginning in 1993. Cutler has owned it since 2001.
“It’s almost a sense of closure.”
Pat Gallo, owner of the Prego Cucina Italiana restaurant, said his business has been in the Market since the mid-1990s and he’s hoping it will remain there for the long run.
“Everybody notices the redevelopment in and around the surrounding areas. Lot of residential . . . The area is up and coming so we hope we all prosper,” said Gallo.
“Any change will be a good change, a positive change, as far as we’re concerned.”
Maggie Schofield, executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, said she is impressed with the Eau Claire Market redevelopment plans.
“It’s a very thoughtful project,” she said. “This is very impressive. It’s very distinctive. They looked at the preservation of the historical cafe and smokestack in a really good way and I think that reflects we always want to make sure that heritage is protected.
“They seem to have this very good pedestrian experience incorporated into the whole development . . . We think it will be a really vibrant area.”