News   Apr 03, 2020
 622     0 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 1.4K     3 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 584     0 

Urban Development and Proposals Discussion

Always_Biking

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Nov 4, 2015
Messages
1,305
Reaction score
1,136
Glad it's not just me that feels this way. Urban form and the street level environment is important, much, much more important than tall towers. Tall towers are okay if you already have solid built up urban form a la NYC, Toronto. Cities with empty lots need to concentrate on those first.

Calgary needs to fill up some of those lots with low and mid rise buildings. Edmonton's case is even worse because they have more empty lots that need to be filled, and are building 2 or 3 really tall buildings when what they really need is 20-30 low/mid rises buildings.

Edmonton is going the wrong direction with things. It needs lots and lots of intensification and not vanity projects. Everyone is now jumping on the Katz bandwagon proposing 40, 50, 80 storeys. The market just isn't large enough. All these proposals are just wasting time. Katz got some great handouts too.
All the supertalls and starchitecture in the world will never make me prefer this to this.
Nothing against height - in fact, Calgary could use much, much more height - but we should focus on improving density and walkability rather than trying to make a statement with big development projects.
 

CBBarnett

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 22, 2016
Messages
632
Reaction score
1,581
Glad it's not just me that feels this way. Urban form and the street level environment is important, much, much more important than tall towers. Tall towers are okay if you already have solid built up urban form a la NYC, Toronto. Cities with empty lots need to concentrate on those first.

Calgary needs to fill up some of those lots with low and mid rise buildings. Edmonton's case is even worse because they have more empty lots that need to be filled, and are building 2 or 3 really tall buildings when what they really need is 20-30 low/mid rises buildings.
Add me to team urban form > urban height.

Calgary has made some remarkable progress over the past 15 or 20 years, but we had a big hole to dig out of as a result of our development history. Calgary is too young of a city to have a much of a stock of mid-rise/row-house developments popular in big North American cities pre-1930s (i.e. Montreal, New York, Toronto etc.), while experience disproportionately rapid growth once the automotive age was at full power, destroying much of the good urban form to replace with auto-oriented offices, arterial roads and in many cases just parking lots. Combined with a healthy dose of well meaning, but foolhardy mega-project zeal (i.e. Olympics/Stampede Park's destruction of Victoria Park, the Municipal Building's assisting destruction of East Village), the little bit of good urban form neighbourhoods that we did have was aggressively gutted. Thousands upon thousands of units of inner city, mid-density housing had been lost by the late 90s - mid 2000s when the return-to-the-city movement started to slow the all-powerful, car-orientated development machine.

The change since the lowest point has been remarkable. Mission and Sunnyside/Hillhurst have really picked up steam as major urban enclaves, Bridgeland's transition of the old hospital site added thousands of new residents, Marda Loop/Garrison Woods created an urban enclave out of almost nothing to start from in only 15 years. Urban nodes are beginning to take root further afield in places like Renfrew, along Centre Street, Killarney and others. Everywhere infill is redeveloping neighbourhoods - not always affordably, but typically at higher density and with more housing variety.

Development economics being what they are, I understand why towers are popular. We simply are not great at allowing mid-range densities in most places. But if I could, I would take those two Guardian Towers, tip them over and distribute those ~600 ish units on 4 block of 4-8 storey walk-ups in Vic Park rather than half a block like it is. Or even better, I would go back in time and not allow the quasi-state funded destruction of Victoria Park in the first place so we would already have another Mission-style hood.

Perhaps in a more relevant example for this particular thread, I like Parkside for it's range of heights, decent podium units and mid-rise qualities much more than if it had just been two mega-towers with the same number of units.
 

Alex_YYC

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 20, 2016
Messages
650
Reaction score
1,341
Location
Calgary
Tall towers are great to look at in the skyline and from a distance, but up close don't offer much for the public realm.
What Calgary needs are more developments of the scale of Lido or those projects proposed for Mission. Even in the east end of the Beltline where the zoning FAR is favourable to tall buildings I would like to see some low rise buildings.
The west end of the beltline is a nice example of how low medium and high density can be mixed to make a vibrant area.
 

JonnyCanuck

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Messages
798
Reaction score
1,011
Did Anyone else besides Me see last Wkds Calgary Sun's Homes/Condo Section Pullout? There was a Topic about Anthem, Merging with United Mgmnt to form Anthem/United. It was Quite Interesting to Find Out. This will impact their Develope Projects.

Tnx,
Operater.
Anthem acquired United Communities which was a land developer. They parceled land to single family builders in new communities. Remains to be seen whether that means Anthem will also become a developer & builder of single family homes.
 

maestro

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
7,189
Reaction score
1,973
All the supertalls and starchitecture in the world will never make me prefer this to this.

Nothing against height - in fact, Calgary could use much, much more height - but we should focus on improving density and walkability rather than trying to make a statement with big development projects.
The Beltline could be better off with less height. I brought this up in another thread. This built form looks silly https://www.google.ca/maps/@51.0405...IK4DmJ8W3GVNSkLZgQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1 compared to the built form of the Hilton and N3 in the East Village.
 

maestro

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
7,189
Reaction score
1,973
Yeah, I mean, Brookfield Place, NMC, NCL, 707, Telus Sky, Evolution, and in my opinion, Mark on Tenth and Sixth and Tenth, are all on par with what's being built in Toronto and Vancouver, and in some cases exceed what's going on in those cities. For a time, I believe in 2014, we were even building more than Montreal and Vancouver (not counting Van's suburbs), which is insane for a city our size to be doing over 40 high-rise projects at one time. Calgary is transforming right before our eyes.
It would be pretty awful if the stand out projects weren't at least up to Toronto's or Vancouver's par. Both cities have also been used as stepping stones into North America by rising but, relatively unknown international firms. That's something missing from Calgary's portfolio.
 

Silence&Motion

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
1,685
Reaction score
1,379
Location
Marda Loop
Calgary is too young of a city to have a much of a stock of mid-rise/row-house developments popular in big North American cities pre-1930s (i.e. Montreal, New York, Toronto etc.)
Toronto did ban apartment buildings in 1912, which is why it has nowhere near the number of pre-WWII mid-rise buildings as NYC, Montreal, Chicago, etc. I suppose that is what allowed it to retain a lot of Victorian townhouses, though.

With regard to the lack of mid-rise in Calgary, I was struck by a recent tweet by Greg Morrow:


Full tweet: https://twitter.com/gregmorrow/stat...tter.com/gregmorrow/status/843508185021333504
 

maestro

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
7,189
Reaction score
1,973
^ The ban didn't do much to stop apartments from built. They just move development outside of the city. (which would be now inner city Toronto) There simply wasn't a push for midrise elevator residential buildings. Montreal pales in comparison to New York and Chicago too. I think only one or two obtain high rise status. Chicago has hundreds. New York has thousands.

**Edit

How old are those figures? They don't seem believable for 2017.
 
Last edited:

Silence&Motion

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
1,685
Reaction score
1,379
Location
Marda Loop
The ban didn't do much to stop apartments from built. They just move development outside of the city. (which would be now inner city Toronto) There simply wasn't a push for midrise elevator residential buildings. Montreal pales in comparison to New York and Chicago too. I think only one or two obtain high rise status. Chicago has hundreds. New York has thousands.
The ban wasn't complete - just within residential areas. Not sure when it got repealed, but it was almost certainly gone by the 1950s when Toronto began embracing the "towers-in-the-park" with particular zeal. I'd say the main reason why more than 1/4 of metro Toronto's households are in 5+ storey buildings is due to the number of high-rises that got built in the suburbs. Given the sheer volume of suburban high-rises, I would bet that Toronto has a larger proportion of households in 5+ storey buildings than metro Chicago - perhaps even on par with metro NYC.

How old are those figures? They don't seem believable for 2017.
I don't know for sure, but my guess is that they are from the 2011 census (2016 numbers aren't out yet). I'm not too surprised by how low Calgary is. Outside the downtown/beltline, there are virtually no high-rise buildings. Most apartments in Calgary are 4 storeys max. Also keep in mind that this is for the CMA, so you have to include Airdrie, etc. in the calculation.
 

Surrealplaces

Administrator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
7,580
Reaction score
18,260
Location
Calgary
I don't know for sure, but my guess is that they are from the 2011 census (2016 numbers aren't out yet). I'm not too surprised by how low Calgary is. Outside the downtown/beltline, there are virtually no high-rise buildings. Most apartments in Calgary are 4 storeys max. Also keep in mind that this is for the CMA, so you have to include Airdrie, etc. in the calculation.
I suspect Calgary will have a higher percentage with the 2016 numbers. The last half dozen years have seen a much higher percentage of housing starts that are condos, with many being apartment units. The overall numbers will still be low in general.
Like you said though there are mounds of apartment buildings in Calgary that are 4 storey walkups due to not having to have an elevator. The stats might be better off representing 4+ storeys instead of 5+.
 

maestro

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
7,189
Reaction score
1,973
The ban wasn't complete - just within residential areas. Not sure when it got repealed, but it was almost certainly gone by the 1950s when Toronto began embracing the "towers-in-the-park" with particular zeal. I'd say the main reason why more than 1/4 of metro Toronto's households are in 5+ storey buildings is due to the number of high-rises that got built in the suburbs. Given the sheer volume of suburban high-rises, I would bet that Toronto has a larger proportion of households in 5+ storey buildings than metro Chicago - perhaps even on par with metro NYC.
The ban was for residential areas within the City of Toronto and this was before the city annexed all the surrounding neighbourhood. Hundreds of walkup apartment buildings continued to be built in the urban areas during the ban. It didn't stop anything. It's not the reason for Toronto having very few mid rises and high rises from that era. Montreal has more but, their numbers do not compare well to the US Metros either.
 

maestro

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
7,189
Reaction score
1,973
I don't know for sure, but my guess is that they are from the 2011 census (2016 numbers aren't out yet). I'm not too surprised by how low Calgary is. Outside the downtown/beltline, there are virtually no high-rise buildings. Most apartments in Calgary are 4 storeys max. Also keep in mind that this is for the CMA, so you have to include Airdrie, etc. in the calculation.
This is a calculated guess. 6.4% is maybe 35000 units. How many units have been built in the last 5/10 years?
 

Surrealplaces

Administrator
Staff member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
7,580
Reaction score
18,260
Location
Calgary
I don't have numbers for total housing starts in Calgary from 2011 onward, but here is what we are looking at as far as units in buildings over 5 storeys. Housing starts in total would have to be ~90,000 to achieve the same 6% so I'm guessing the percentage has been much higher lately.

Here is a list of buildings 5+ floors that were completed after the 2011 census, but before the 2016 census.
Guardian (2) 650 units
Aura (2) 312 units
Portfolio 218 units
Smith 130
Bridgeland Crossings 300
The River 42
Outlook 175
Drake 128
Metropolitan 430
Pules+Fuse 284
Alura 220 units
Keynote II 247 units
Luna 218
University City (4) 720 units
Groves at Monterrey 508 units
Calla 164 units
Live on Park 156 units
Lusso 20 units
Elements 48 units
First 196 units
Glenmore Gardens 144 units
Casel 60 units
Total 5374 units

Here are the buildings completed after or still u/c since the 2016 census.
Versus 450
Mark 274
1215 137 units
Park Point 288 units
6th and 10th 230 units
Avenue 319 units
Parkside 355 units
Concord 113 units
Telus Sky 326
Lido 72 units
INK 119
That Hat 221
Verve 291 units
N3 167 units
The Royal 223 units
Fifteen 15 148 units
Centre Green 26 units
Vogue 232 units
Ezra 100 units
Underwood Tower 192 units
Centro 79 units
Manor at Fish Creek 277 units
The Kensington 77 units
Radius 200 units
Total 4918 units
 
Last edited:

Beltline_B

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Messages
876
Reaction score
1,083
From 2011 through 2015 there were 63,000 housing starts in the Calgary CMA, so those amount of units would total about 9%. Better than the 6.8% but still a ways to go.

That said, I don't know why we are only looking at buildings five stories or more . In my opinion a good measure would be buildings three stories or higher, as good urban form and density can be accomplished just as well, using low rise buildings and townhouses.
 

Top