1st St Chinatown Tower Development | ?m | 28s | El Condor Lands | Perkins + Will


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Jan 18, 2017
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The Chinatown CA seems to think of their businesses as being the focal point of the city's Chinese community; from the letter:
"We do not support a reduction in parking anywhere in Chinatown. The community is an important hub for all of Calgary and many people come to the community via single passenger vehicles, especially in the evenings and weekends. We have repeatedly asked that no relaxations be granted... we ask that [the cash-in-lieu] fund please be used to provide public parking in Chinatown."
The vision is clearly one of Chinatown as the centre where the community drives in to access the services. I don't know how long that's really tenable as a solution.

Here's the share of Chinese population (I'm using the visible minority question) with the same colour scales - 1996 on the left and 2016 on the right:

Twenty years ago, Chinatown had the densest concentration of Chinese people in the city; today, there are a dozen census tracts with higher concentrations of Chinese population, and they're all in the north-central suburbs. I don't know the Chinese community well; perhaps Chinatown is still the hub where the community drives in evenings and weekends, but how long will that remain the case, if the trends of the past 20 years continue?

The Chinese population of Chinatown (at least the two tracts containing Chinatown) is 1820 people, exactly the same as it was in 1996, during a period when the Chinese population in the Calgary CMA doubled. That north-central area (E of Deerfoot, N of 64th Ave / Nose Hill Park / John Laurie ish) has gone from 11.7K to 39.8K; it was 26% of the CMA's Chinese population; now it's 44%, while Chinatown has gone from 4% to 2% of the CMA's Chinese population.

However, another trend, one that's not as obvious at first glance, is the increasing share of Chinese population in the inner city; in the 10 inner city tracts bordering the two Chinatown tracts (the walkable/bikeable area), the Chinese population has almost tripled, going from 1370 in 1996 to 3790 today. That's a market that Chinatown has been hostile to, opposing cycling facilities for instance. This is a market that they could tap, if they wanted to. And of course, it's not only Chinese-oriented businesses in Chinatown, and it's not only Chinese people who shop and dine there; the inner city population is growing, and becoming more cosmopolitan. A multicultural dining district on the pathway system should be a license to print money. Imagine if they established a night market on one of the parking lots - prioritize the established businesses but I'd bet there'd be tons of spillover from the increased traffic to the area.

I just don't understand why Chinatown, a community with so much to offer -- the history, the river, the authenticity, the vitality and street life -- is trying to compete with New Horizons Mall and Country Hills on ample parking; it's the only battlefield where they're guaranteed to lose.


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Dec 2, 2019
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Hard to agree with an argument that a surface lot is better than this development. This epic NIMBYism makes me want to boycott Chinatown...
Luckily the asshat who is in charge of the Chinatown Association is running to replace Druh in Council! That will be a massive step back for any inner city representation. Dark time ahead if he ends up winning.