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Staff member
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Sep 22, 2015
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Varscona Theatre Rebuild:


Station on Whyte:




It's nice that it has retail frontage, but for the life of me I can't figure out what happened that:
1. There could be no street parking adjacent to the building,
2. That the retail was not built at sidewalk grade
3. That the building was not required to have a setback for a public sidewalk at all


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The setback would have been difficult because of the unique property depth. They're wedged between CP row and 102 St
A somewhat-exclusive first close-up look at the new Joey Bell Tower,...because someone left the gate wide-open.


The kitchen faces into the alley, just off the main entrance and facing the Edmonton Tower retail space. Nice!


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Makes sense to me… we know that the underground parking for Roger's Place will be impeded by construction work for many months ahead and OEG will want to ensure the parking availability does not become a hindrance to RP attendance. It would be a shame if the rezoned area became surface parking for the next 10 years (that is not temporary enough!). But there are several considerations at play here apart from parking for RP. Each time a new tower is undertaken, there will be a call for worker-near-site parking, and while it may be Katz's intention to ultimately develop the rezoned site(s), I don't see that happening for at least four or five years -- tower "b" adjacent to the plaza, then tower "c" across from the Edmonton Tower. I don't think Mr. Katz puts a lot of store in the LRT connection for trades people who normally have a trunk full of construction gear that they haul around with them. I am afraid that we have to take a long-view here.
@archited You might be right from a practical standpoint, however one of the big selling points of a downtown arena was the abundance of existing parking in the area and more importantly the accessibility by transit, not to mention how proud we should be that so much surface parking was disappearing as part of this construction project. Adding as much as they're asking basically makes for a net zero change in the amount of surface parking in the area.

Concern about tradespoeple needing parking space seems a bit disingenuous, given the much tighter constraints of other downtown construction sites, but they manage. Rezoning such a large piece of land just for that temporary purpose actually makes it a bit worse in my mind.

Surface parking is just such an awful waste of land, especially in an area where land values should be set to rise and become prime for redevelopment. Keeping it / adding to it does nothing to encourage transit use, and basically guarantees that any revitalization of the north edge is set back by another decade.
@Daveography I think there will be two forces at play here that are diametrically opposed. Once underground parking becomes available -- especially on a cold winter's day -- it will be extremely difficult to attain expected rates if there is a glut of cheaper surface parking. Economics suggests that Mr. Katz & Co. is going to want to eliminate as much surface parking as possible to get the maximum price for his underground stalls. The short term, however, suggests to me that he will want to have a "field" of surface parking similar to what Northlands achieved around Rexall Place. In L.A. (again, a comparison that I am loathe to make), when the Staples Center was first built, there was a sea of surface parking around it -- so much that the L.A. Convention Center was bickering about a loss of parking revenue. But then a next generation of development kicked in (similar in scale and purpose to the ICE district). Now, a third wave of development has entirely occluded surface parking and you have to take out a second mortgage on your house to get near the Staples Center, parking-wise.
A further note… one benefit of the higher parking rates around Staples is a dramatic increase in RT use; another is that ALL of the new development is mixed use with emphasis on housing and hospitality.
@archited It's a market commodity like any other; more parking overall keeps parking overall rates low. Given that Katz owns this land, he'll be earning parking revenues from both. And as long as those surface lots are making any money, the incentive to development is that much lower. I don't think it wise to gamble on Katz's intentions, as good as they may be; he may be doing a lot of good for downtown, but he's still a businessman and if the economics make it that much easier for him to sit on the land undeveloped the less financial incentive he has to build out his vision.