Mission Cathedral District - Land Use Change for Tower

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Mission Cathedral District - Land Use Change for Tower

Postby Marilyn Williams » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:38 pm

Sent to Members of Council, City of Calgary
from the CBMCA Heritage Director

RE: Proposed Land Use Redesignation and ARP Amendment (LOC 2007-0053, M 2009-018) to allow Over-height development in the Historic Mission Cathedral District

I am writing this letter in my current capacity as Heritage Director, Board member and Development Committee member for the community association of Cliff Bungalow-Mission to request council to amend the land use proposal before you to specify no greater than the 23 meters height proposed by the current ARP, and not the 54 meters requested in the proposal. The relative height of development allowed by the above Redesignation compared to the height of St. Mary’s Cathedral, only 275 meters away, would diminish the prominence of the cathedral and the historic character of the Cathedral District.

The historic Cathedral district contains the very roots of the Mission neighbourhood and the early development of the city of Calgary. St. Mary’s Cathedral, by church architect, author, and poet Maxwell Bates, is the 6th incarnation of the Mission. The first Mission Notre Dame de la Paix (Our Lady of Peace) goes back to a log hut west of the city, built in 1872 by Métis Alexis Cardinal, as directed by Père Lacombe, to minister to the needs of a loosely scattered settlement of Métis and farmsteaders. Its 3rd and present location eventually became the centre of the Village of Rouleauville, incorporated in 1899, as evidenced by the built form which still remains in the district: the Convent by prominent architect William Stanley Bates (Maxwell’s father), the Parish Hall, and the Edouard Rouleau House.

The proposed site has very special opportunities for development. The cathedral anchors the south end of 1st Street S.W. which has excellent potential for a much needed French district in Calgary. There already exists architecture which alludes to both Roman Catholic and French architecture by small developments within or close to the district: Our Lady of Lourdes school, which replaced the original 1912 school, also by W.S. Bates), Rouleauville Park, Callebaut’s and La Chaumiere French restaurant.

The Mission ARP allows for sensitive development within the district, but with the obvious guidelines required to protect the sight lines of the Cathedral, and the cultural roots of the district:.

· “Development within 100 meters of St. Mary’s Cathedral should not exceed 6 storeys in height to maintain the prominence of the Cathedral.” (Part II, Section 9.1.3)

· Development “maintains and promotes the historic character of the Cathedral District.” (Part II, Section 8.2)

· Part III recommends that this property be redesignated to DC (RM-6) to permit residential policies and guidelines. It would allow for densification at a height of 23 meters (ample height considering this site is only 275 meters from the cathedral.)

The community understands that the economics must work for this development, and accordingly have indicated willingness to make a number of sacrifices:

· The loss of another character building, Sid’s Grocery, for the greater good of densification.

· Although the community would strongly prefer transit oriented development of low to medium income households, we appreciate that luxury condominiums generate higher profits. However, we draw the line at sacrificing the culture of the district to the additional profits a high rise development with spectacular views would generate.

· We have indicated earlier that we could be flexible with green space exchange to accommodate higher density at 23 meters.

I must mention one exception the community was obliged to make to allow excessive building height within the Cathedral District during the most recent ARP process, and that is the Convent site: if the Convent buildings are designated and retained as a Municipal Historic Resources then maximum heights at this site would be revisited. This demonstrated the lengths to which we have gone to protect the culture and built history of the district.

In closing, the Cathedral architect Maxwell Bates, already a specialist in church architecture, demonstrated exceptional respect to francophone and catholic culture in its design and sculpture by investing in significant research. Cliff Bungalow-Mission welcomes the same respectful redevelopment in this very special part of our neighbourhood. The maximum height of 23 meters proposed in the current ARP is already very generous.

We would have liked to explain this special cultural and historic significance to the Calgary Planning Commission, however, there appeared to be issues with the formal channels of notification and community consultation for this land use change and ARP amendment. However, if any members of council would like to learn more I would be very willing to personally guide them though a tour (in French or English) of this remarkable district.


Marilyn Williams,

Heritage Director

Cliff Bungalow-Mission,

403-246-3878, marilynwilliams@shaw.ca
Marilyn Williams
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:32 pm

Council pass land use change despite Mission CA opposition

Postby Marilyn Williams » Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:11 pm

Fast Forward article below gives the scoop on what transpired. There is still the Development approval process to protect against insensitive development in the Cathedral District.

Mission community association irked by condo project

Former alderman lobbies for condo tower on edge of cathedral district
Published July 30, 2009 by Jeremy Klaszus in News

Riley Brandt

'We don’t want any developer to feel they can come in and push a building through without respecting the rules,' says the Cliff Bungalow-Mission Community Association's Natasha Pashak

An inner-city community association is steamed after a developer hired the area’s former alderman to lobby city hall for a sleek luxury condo tower in Mission’s cathedral district.

Liv Urban Developments Ltd. plans to build a 17-storey, one-unit-per-floor tower near the Elbow River at 18th Ave. and First St. S.E. — “a sliver of a building,” says Liv Urban CEO Dan Bowman. To get the building site rezoned to more than double the allowable building height for the site — a move approved by city council earlier this month — Bowman hired former alderman Madeleine King as a consultant.

Natasha Pashak of the Cliff Bungalow-Mission Community Association says the community has been kept in the dark about the developer’s plans. She argues that the planned building is too tall and too close to St. Mary’s Cathedral, which is about 300 metres west of the building site. (St. Mary’s High School sits between the two sites.)

Pashak also decries King’s involvement in the process. “It’s dirty to me,” she says. “They’ve been lobbying for two years. They’ve been meeting with aldermen for two years about it.” King first learned of the project when she was an alderman and she currently sits on the city’s planning commission, along with the project’s architect, Jeremy Sturgess.

Both of them recused themselves from the planning commission’s May vote on the Liv Urban project, but Pashak is still unimpressed that a former alderman is lobbying for a project the community association doesn’t want. The original maximum zoning height for the site was 23 metres for commercial projects; it’s now been changed to 52 metres for residential.

To accommodate the project, city council also amended the Mission area redevelopment plan (ARP) — a community development blueprint that council approved in 2006. “We have to be included in the discussion with the city about changing our ARP,” says Pashak. “We don’t want any developer to feel they can come in and push a building through without respecting the rules.”

In the last civic election, King narrowly lost to Ald. John Mar. The dispute over the tower once again pitted King against Mar, but this time King was the victor. Mar sided with the community association but couldn’t convince the rest of council to delay the decision to rezone and amend the ARP. “I think that if I’d have been able to work with the community and the developer a little bit longer, we might have been able to come to an agreement,” says Mar.

Mar says he “inherited” the Liv Urban issue from King when he took over Ward 8. “That’s what you call irony, isn’t it. That was not lost on me.” He adds that he can understand why the community association is unhappy with King’s involvement. “Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about that. She’s a private citizen… and is utilizing her previous experience in a way that’s time-honoured.”

King says the community association's criticisms of her involvement are “upsetting and disappointing,” adding that her knowledge of this “one-of-a-kind” project is beneficial to the city. “It actually helps for better decision making,” she says.

The project site sits on the northeast corner of the cathedral district, an area of Mission marked by pathways, the riverbank, as well as architecturally and historically significant buildings. The condo site also borders the Beltline, and overlooks a busy downtown street that turns into southbound Macleod Trail. “Out of all of Mission, I can’t see one property where it makes more sense to have a 17-storey building,” says Bowman.

He also says the city has put him through “amazing” hoops in approving plans for the 2,500-square-foot condos. He first presented the plan to King in 2006 and has yet to get building and development approvals. He also points out that he’s scaled the building down from the original plan of 23 storeys.

Plans for the building integrate the condo with a nearby park notorious for criminal activity and blend in with nearby pathways. Bowman believes the project will improve the area. “While I appreciate the Mission community’s interest to keep a great community — to keep value there and to preserve its historical significance — I’m not sure that they’re always looking at the true merits of the proposals put before them,” he says.

Father Greg Coupal, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, says the Liv Urban project hasn’t been on his radar. He only learned of it in June. “My gut reaction is that’s an awfully tall building for that space,” says Coupal. “On the plus side, it might give us some parishioners.”

Bowman says it will be “a couple years” before construction begins.
Marilyn Williams
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:32 pm

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