A Rezoning & Heritage Preservation Success Story

Posted on Mar 16, 2015


CaptureIt is with pride that we announce after two years of public & stakeholder engagement, on Monday, March 9, our Memorial Drive Rezoning was unanimously approved at Council. This rezoning allows a 4 storey development with a 2.5 FAR (floor area ratio) that will result in 75-100 new residential units on the site in a low-rise building. The loss of 13 character homes on the site is offset by the Municipal Heritage Designation of two prominent commercial buildings in Kensington Shopping District.

The approval of the rezoning application was a victory for all the participating stakeholders including the City, Community, BRZ and this developer. The outcome of the many stakeholder engagements was an open dialogue about the issues and challenges that all stakeholders face when a new development is brought forward. The resulting process of engagement, the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Association’s Multi-Stakeholder Taskforce on Developer Engagement (the “MSTF”) has been applauded as a new and important tool for extensive community engagement, useful for developers to address stakeholder concerns.

The MSTF was a unique approach to engagement, based on the City of Calgary Transforming Planning engagement models, that brought stakeholders to the table all together to discuss issues that arose throughout the application process. The on-going nature of the engagement provided safety for discussions that have extended beyond this one application to create on-going relationships, to the benefit of all.

A Unique Heritage Loss Solution

On this application, heritage preservation became the galvanizing issue for discussion and negotiations. Through extensive negotiations with the City and Community, many options were put forth: in-situ preservation and re-purposing of some of the existing homes; incorporating the front façades of all the homes into the new building; moving the homes off the site; and offering preservation of other buildings to off-set the loss of the homes.

The homes were evaluated by the City and it was determined that the heritage value was due to the uninterrupted streetscape of the heritage buildings, not necessarily through the value of each individual home. This lead to a loss-offset discussion and the proposal of off-site preservation. Within our commercial inventory of buildings we have the Arnell Block (Starbucks building) and the Smith (Cuzzubbo) Residence (a portion of the Kensington Pub building). Both buildings were proposed to be entered into the Municipal Heritage Registry to off-set the loss of heritage with the removal or destruction of the heritage homes on the site. These highly-visible, prominently located commercial buildings are well preserved and easily recognizable, providing public access and visibility to heritage in the area. Heritage buildings provide a strong physical connection to the past, examples of historic art and architecture, and provide opportunities for culture, innovation and interest on the streetscape.

You can read the City of Calgary Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources information on these two buildings here:

starbucksArnell Block (Starbucks) – http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/PD/Pages/Heritage-planning/Discover-Historic-Calgary-resources.aspx?dhcResourceId=373

Smith (Cuzzubbo) Residence (part of the Kensington Pub) – http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/PD/Pages/Heritage-planning/Discover-Historic-Calgary-resources.aspx?dhcResourceId=755

A developer’s Heritage Agreement was executed prior to the Council Public Hearing that legally binds the buildings for Municipal Heritage Designation with the City of Calgary.

Throughout the MSTF and this application, this unique, stand-alone solution highlighted the lack of heritage resource tools for the Community and the writer continues to encourage City and community dialogue about heritage evaluation and the need for a credit and valuation system for heritage buildings.


 

Additionally, you can read The Herald’s coverage of the approval here: http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/kensington-condo-project-wins-support-in-exchange-for-heritage-protection-nearby

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