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Danielle Paradis explores what makes Edmonton a great city.

Edmonton development proposal reaches for the sky

Density is essential to a successful downtown and a large tower like this brings new people to the Boyle Street neighbourhood.

The 80-storey tower proposed for the Quarters.

Metro file

The 80-storey tower proposed for the Quarters.

The proposal for an 80-storey mixed-use building that will stand between Grierson Hill and Jasper Avenue is a towering amendment to the area redevelopment plan for The Quarters. The slim design is both elegant and delightful.

It’s a bold move, and Edmontonians should be excited. But it’s not a done deal.

Residents wrote letters of concern to the city and council delayed the land sale agreement hearing until Feb. 22.

To make the change would require a slew of amendments to bylaws and an amendment to the area redevelopment plan.

Neither of these things is insurmountable. Ignoring area development plans isn’t new to council. Just last year, they approved a development for a building, the Mezzo, just off of Whyte Avenue.

However, unlike the Mezzo, this 80-storey proposal has the support of city planners.

The company who put forth the proposal, Alldrit, promises a terraced walkway to the tower in addition to a new public park, and the removal of some dingy eyesores that are currently sitting boarded up.

It’s also not going to obstruct the view of pedestrians. The proposed tower has a transparent podium, which will allow pedestrians on the ground level to still admire our beloved river valley.

Some residents are concerned that the development will send a message to developers that the river valley is for sale -- but they need not worry.

As the Sierra Club’s Charlie Richmond told council: “This has clearly got to be the least environmentally valuable, the most modified piece of land, in the entire river valley.”

It’s a pretty sparse piece of land that has served time as both a garbage dump and as a coal mine.

At present, nearly every business around it is shuttered. This area of downtown, as it currently sits, is not walkable and not welcoming.

Not only would the tower create an interesting visual addition to the downtown area. It would also inject some much needed life into an area of town that’s been left to lie fallow.

Density is essential to a successful downtown and a large tower like this brings new people to the Boyle Street neighbourhood, as well as new park space for families.

There’s also the chance to recapture previous glories. Edmonton had the tallest tower in Western Canada for five years when the 26-storey CN Tower rose to a height of 110 meters in 1966.

With the new proposed development Edmonton stands to gain much more than it has to lose. What is it we have written on that Melcor building again? Oh yes: "Take a chance, it’s the most Edmonton thing you can do."

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