At the tail-end of a nine-and-a-half hour Public Hearing, City Council gave approval to the rezoning application as submitted for The View, a new tower by Westrich Pacific designed by Vancouver-based Chris Dikeakos Architects. The tower proposal, formerly known only as "Grandin Tower," was rejected by Council last year on the basis of being too dense and not having sufficient separation from an existing building directly south.

Rendering of "The View," image via City of Edmonton

After hearing speakers both for and against, Council debated the update rezoning proposal - which now includes selling a portion of an adjacent public laneway to the developer and an amendment to the 21-year-old Oliver Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) - until about 10:30 Monday night, with many Councillors expressing a great difficulty in coming to a decision.

Councillors praised the developer and architect for the unique design of the building, their commitment to including a number of family-friendly units, and for attempting to address the concerns of such a large development on a small parcel of land - only slightly larger than two single-family house lots.

"There's a lot of reasons to like this tower project," said Councillor Scott McKeen, "my concern has always been the size of the parcel, and somewhat the location mid-block." He continued, "Grandin is a special place, and I feel very protective of it [...] I would say this tower does not fit in this context."

Many other Councillors also expressed hesitation to approve the rezoning, especially when city planners on the file could not recommend supporting the plan. Planners said the proposal "represents significant over-development of a small site," and expressed concerns over the lack of separation of the tower from neighbouring properties, in addition to being a major departure from the Oliver ARP.

Diagram of separation distances, image via City of Edmonton

In his closing comments, Councillor Andrew Knack expressed concerns about bypassing the city planners' recommendations. "Just because we're less than 200 metres away [from an LRT station] doesn't mean we should throw out any consideration for design, wind impacts, podium, or any factors like that.... But we don't have a lot of locations where we have LRT stations."

"On paper, this is everything I want to see," said Mayor Don Iveson, "and yet something is still bugging me about it."

In the end, with many Councillors also citing the proximity to Grandin LRT station and the desire for Transit-Oriented Development tipping the balance, Council voted 10-3 to support the development.

Rendering of "The View," image via City of Edmonton

In his closing arguments, Councillor Michael Walters praised the positive aspects. "This is a very very very nice building," said Walters. "In order to get to [being a] sustainable city, in order to achieve the urban shift that I think is important to so many of us, I feel very compelled to support this today."

SkyriseEdmonton will be sure to return to this project as progress continues. For more information, check out a the associated Database file and Forum thread, and as always, feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below. 

Related Companies:  Chris Dikeakos Architects, Westrich Pacific Corp.