I agree with this assessment, if there is ever a place to try and retrofit in a pedestrian main street in early suburban design, 24 Avenue is top of the list for potential.Banff Trail is adjacent to the second largest employment cluster in the city and within walking distance of 2 LRT stations. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be able to sustain a retail street if Marda Loop and Bridgeland can. As well, Bridgeland is situated in between two dying malls (North Hill and Brentwood). It could easily draw community amenities such as a post office or drug store from those places, which would also make them more accessible to people at the university.
Also, it's not that every single block between Crowchild and 19 Street needs to have retail. But this development is smack in the middle of the neighbourhood. Imagine if something like this had been allowed to be built at 20 St and 33 Ave in Marda Loop instead of that building with Shoppers Drug Mart and Phil and Sebastian. It might have sabotaged the entire transformation of Marda Loop.
The conditions that created Kensington Market in Toronto were entirely unique and do not exist anymore in any city. How many residential buildings in this city, built in the last 50 years, have had their ground floors converted from residential to retail? If this gets built it will create a dead space in the middle of 24 Ave that will exist for generations.
As for my Kensington Market reference was an attempt at being humourous. Personally, in the long run I think we should work to blur the regulatory line between residential and small scale neighbourhood retail so it's not so difficult to imagine one use transitioning to another. Calgary has lots of pretty interesting residential-only neighbourhoods that would bump up a level to being great neighbourhoods if they just allowed a few businesses or small destinations (cafe, bar, bookshop, food place) of any kind that isn't a strip mall.