Falcon Towers | 170m | 44s | Langham Developments | Arc Studio

What do you think of this project?


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ChazYEG

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Here's hoping,



That's a lots of parking lots...
That's a whole lot of them gone!!! Just with what we currently have approved/planned/under construction that I believe are solid, I can see our Downtown becoming so much more dense and vibrant before the end of the decade that it will be unrecognizable!
 

IanO

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Many of us said that in 2006... with many strides forward, a few backward and quite of a bit of spinning in circles since.

The reality before us still remains that we need 25k (double today) living (and hopefully working) in our Downtown before things really get going.
 

ChazYEG

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Many of us said that in 2006... with many strides forward, a few backward and quite of a bit of spinning in circles since.

The reality before us still remains that we need 25k (double today) living (and hopefully working) in our Downtown before things really get going.
Ian, I don't know where you get the magic numbers from...
Just for the sake of comparison (with our usual benchmark, YYC), we'd need around half of this, spread between Oliver and Downtown, to be at about the same population number as Calgary's downtown area (Downtown, Beltline, Eaux Claire, Chinatown and Sunalta). Between these two neighborhoods, we have roughly 30k, whereas Calgary has roughly 42k on the 5 I listed.

As I like to point out, as well intentioned as you might be, you seem to have a little bit of a misconception about the role played by population density on the vibrancy. It has, of course, a relatively big impact, but a change in the urban culture is much more important, and the steps the city planners take to incentivize such change are crucial. Were density and total population the sole (or main) drivers, Halifax's downtown wouldn't be so much nicer and more vibrant than ours.

What hurts Edmonton Downtown the most, in this case, is the mix between the complete lack of good planning, good care and attractiveness to spend time there, even for those who live here.
We complain that everything goes to the WEM or SEC, but these places offer a much more pleasant atmosphere to shop and dine than Downtown, to the point where Downtown residents prefer going to the same stores and restaurants on the West Ed that they have close to home.

I've had a friend who lives in Vancouver Island visit the other day and we took a drive around downtown (it was raining as hell...) And he pointed one thing that we all know: our downtown is not necessarily as ugly and uninviting as some make it seem, when they talk, but it lacks the care. Our sidewalks need to be cleaner and repaired, the pavement on the streets is worthy of a mid-sized third world country, there's too much graffiti and you can walk (or drive) the entire span of the area and we don't have a single beat cop to ask for help or information.

Notice how all of these are things that could easily be fixed and would help A LOT in making the area much more pleasant and inviting. Broader, nicer sidewalks, maybe a completely closed off street lined with outdoor patios and a space for live music (RHW, anyone?).
Even the parking lots, we could have the owners fence it, add some small landscaping around the lots, so that at street level we don't have to see all of the disrepair.
Come back with beat cops patrolling the area, so people can feel safer, give them free range of movement by transit with free LRT within the confines of the area, and BAM! You'll have a downtown where people will actually want to stay, both businesses and people. Won't happen overnight, but give it a year or two, keeping the area like this, and you'll have a resurgence.

Might sound silly, but it's essentially what EVERY city that created a vibrant downtown did, in North America: make it look nice and inviting, make it easy and safe for people to come and spend time there.

Density, and most importantly, vibrancy will follow, not the other way around. Again, there's too much of a case to be made, in Edmonton, that the city is in much more need of a supply shock than a demand one. The nice thing is that by the end of my Master's I should have somewhat of a nice answer to that, with evidence and using solid science. Thanks to you, Ian, I decided to take upon myself to write my dissertation on this :)
 

IanO

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More than a few professional planners have used that number and I would agree that it is about where it needs to be to have more people on the street at more hours of the day to help support and drive retail/food/bev/etc. Having more 'complete streets', active storefronts/streets and more reasons for more people from around the city to explore at more times of the year is vital. Density in the Downtown alone will never be the solution but it would help immensely.

Halifax has the 'benefit' of being a port/cruise ship city and major tourist destination in Canada due to its history and setting. Perhaps not the best comparison. But for what it is, its built-form is far more conducive to a walkable and enjoyable destination for locals and tourists alike.

As you mention, urban design plays a significant part, as does care, feel, appearance and that continues to be a major issue for our city. It simply does not present very well.

Safety or the perception thereof is its biggest issue right now.

We have to look after the little things to have any chance at working towards larger and more aspirational goals.
 

ChazYEG

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Might I add that we have, between things under construction, recently finished (2019 to present) and about to break ground, about 4~5500 units spread across Oliver, Downtown and Boyle Street, which in time will probably translate to 6~7500 people living there, if we can get them to move in. That's about half to 2/3 of what we need to be at the same population density in our DT as Calgary.
 
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ChazYEG

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I see the 25k people number as a little bit overestimated. For you to have an idea, it would make DT Edmonton in the same league as Montreal and Vancouver.

Currently, between Oliver, downtown and Boyle Street (which I should've included) we have roughly 37k (2019). Vancouver Downtown had 62k as of 2018. If you sum Vancouver DT + West End, they're at 110k (2018), but in an area substantially larger than Oliver + DT + Boyle Street.

Having 62~65k people living in our Downtown Area would be awesome, but far from needed to have vibrancy and more people.om the streets. It should be our goal, but we'll be well on our way to have a nicer, more vibrant downtown with adding half of that, bringing us to roughly 50k in our downtown area (about 20% more than Calgary has, and look at how much nicer their DT is than ours).
 

IanO

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I think that we can all agree that we need to double the population, grow our daytime employment base and make Downtown more of a destination for the region to achieve all of these goals.

I think back to Nuit Blanche, Taste, Open Streets, Oilers games in the early fall with nicer weather and the like and it feels transformed.
 

David A

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I don't think we all agree there is a magic number, so much as that considerably more people living downtown would be better and would help improve it. I think is good to encourage and celebrate developments in the area, but also as pointed out there is a second very important issue - livability.

Focusing just on more buildings, doesn't necessarily address a number of issues that make living downtown more or less attractive. Maybe it is easier to talk about numbers, but there are important qualitative issues here too. If an area is more attractive, then it become easier to build and get more people to live there.
 

Edmonchuk

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Ian, I don't know where you get the magic numbers from...
Just for the sake of comparison (with our usual benchmark, YYC), we'd need around half of this, spread between Oliver and Downtown, to be at about the same population number as Calgary's downtown area (Downtown, Beltline, Eaux Claire, Chinatown and Sunalta). Between these two neighborhoods, we have roughly 30k, whereas Calgary has roughly 42k on the 5 I listed.

As I like to point out, as well intentioned as you might be, you seem to have a little bit of a misconception about the role played by population density on the vibrancy. It has, of course, a relatively big impact, but a change in the urban culture is much more important, and the steps the city planners take to incentivize such change are crucial. Were density and total population the sole (or main) drivers, Halifax's downtown wouldn't be so much nicer and more vibrant than ours.

What hurts Edmonton Downtown the most, in this case, is the mix between the complete lack of good planning, good care and attractiveness to spend time there, even for those who live here.
We complain that everything goes to the WEM or SEC, but these places offer a much more pleasant atmosphere to shop and dine than Downtown, to the point where Downtown residents prefer going to the same stores and restaurants on the West Ed that they have close to home.

I've had a friend who lives in Vancouver Island visit the other day and we took a drive around downtown (it was raining as hell...) And he pointed one thing that we all know: our downtown is not necessarily as ugly and uninviting as some make it seem, when they talk, but it lacks the care. Our sidewalks need to be cleaner and repaired, the pavement on the streets is worthy of a mid-sized third world country, there's too much graffiti and you can walk (or drive) the entire span of the area and we don't have a single beat cop to ask for help or information.

Notice how all of these are things that could easily be fixed and would help A LOT in making the area much more pleasant and inviting. Broader, nicer sidewalks, maybe a completely closed off street lined with outdoor patios and a space for live music (RHW, anyone?).
Even the parking lots, we could have the owners fence it, add some small landscaping around the lots, so that at street level we don't have to see all of the disrepair.
Come back with beat cops patrolling the area, so people can feel safer, give them free range of movement by transit with free LRT within the confines of the area, and BAM! You'll have a downtown where people will actually want to stay, both businesses and people. Won't happen overnight, but give it a year or two, keeping the area like this, and you'll have a resurgence.

Might sound silly, but it's essentially what EVERY city that created a vibrant downtown did, in North America: make it look nice and inviting, make it easy and safe for people to come and spend time there.

Density, and most importantly, vibrancy will follow, not the other way around. Again, there's too much of a case to be made, in Edmonton, that the city is in much more need of a supply shock than a demand one. The nice thing is that by the end of my Master's I should have somewhat of a nice answer to that, with evidence and using solid science. Thanks to you, Ian, I decided to take upon myself to write my dissertation on this :)
I absolutely agree with you on that one. Our downtown looks dirty and in disrepair for such a long time. Sidewalks are in horrible condition. Sand and dust everywhere. It's just unpleasant to be in downtown! Just fix the sidewalks and add some landscaping, and people will come! You don't have to add thousands of residence to make the area nice and inviting!
How difficult is that to put new sidewalks and add some ornamental grasses, bushes and planters. It's so frustrating.

I walked on 102 ave from 121str to 109 and it looks horrible. Sand is everywhere on sidewalks, no landscaping whatsoever. The city can't clean/sweep the streets?? I would love to live in downtown, but not in those conditions. That's why Calgary is so much more appealing - it's clean.
 
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IanO

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Oddly enough... Downtown (along with other BIAs) receives priority cleaning/sweeping and 'enhanced' versions of that... and yet still presents very poorly overall.

It's been a complaint of mine for years (decades) now.
 

Edmonchuk

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I moved to Edmonton in 2013 and was shocked at how bad the sidewalks and roads were back then in Downtown. Then visited Calgary and was like WTF.
We need to invest in infrastructure in downtown. The newly improved section on Jasper Ave transformed the vibe and looks so much more inviting. I wish they added bike lanes as well. With the city's pace of updating infrastructure in downtown, it will never be inviting and pleasant to spend time, no matter how many residents you add.
 

Glenco

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I moved to Edmonton in 2013 and was shocked at how bad the sidewalks and roads were back then in Downtown. Then visited Calgary and was like WTF.
We need to invest in infrastructure in downtown. The newly improved section on Jasper Ave transformed the vibe and looks so much more inviting. I wish they added bike lanes as well. With the city's pace of updating infrastructure in downtown, it will never be inviting and pleasant to spend time, no matter how many residents you add.
Mike Nickel thinks we are focusing to much on downtown and should pent more ener on the burbs. Remember that when you go to vote.
 

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