Construction is set to begin this summer on two of four major redevelopments proposed by Calgary Co-op, part of a 10-year, $2.5 billion capital investment campaign aimed at making the local retailer more modern and competitive.
Courtesy, Calgary Co-op
Construction is set to begin this summer on two of four major redevelopments proposed by Calgary Co-op, part of a 10-year, $2.5-billion capital investment campaign aimed at making the local retailer more modern and competitive.Calgary Co-op’s vice-president of real estate, Damon Tanzola, said shovels will be in the ground by mid-2019 in both Dalhousie and Oakridge — where Co-op has received the approvals to redevelop the sites that currently house two of its aging grocery stores. In addition to constructing new grocery stores at each location, Co-op will be partnering with local developers to bring retail, office and residential units to each location.“It really comes down to two main factors, one of which is re-investing in Calgary because we’re locally owned and operated and we want to give back to the community,” Tanzola said. “And then, part of it is the age of some of the facilities we have. We want to remain competitive as new entries to groceries and fuel and liquor come into our backyard.”The projects are so extensive that both are expected to take a full six years to complete. Not only do they represent two of the biggest projects in Calgary Co-op’s 64-year history, they also count among the largest redevelopment projects currently underway in Calgary.At Dalhousie, Co-op will be constructing a 47,000-square-foot food store, relocating its gas bar and convenience store, and adding 40,000 square feet of new retail space available for lease to restaurants, shops, financial institutions and more. Two condo towers, one 22-storey and one 10-storey building, will provide 444 residential units in total. A functioning greenhouse, to be used by some of Co-op’s local produce suppliers, is being planned for the rooftop of one of the condo towers.At Oakridge, Co-op plans to build a 56,000-square-foot food store, a two-storey retail and office building, as well as three residential buildings with a total of 270 units. The tallest of the condo towers will be 12 storeys, revised down from 15 storeys after the community expressed concerns about the height of the buildings.Calgary Co-op has been developing plans for Dalhousie and Oakridge — as well as its North Hill and Brentwood locations — for the last five years. But the process has not been without hiccups. In January 2018, city council sent the Oakridge project back to the drawing board after criticizing Co-op’s vision for being “too vehicle-centric.” And while the North Hill proposal — which includes a 44,000-square-foot food store, 8,000 square feet of new retail space, 12,500 square feet of new office space and 115 residential units — is still making its way through the approvals process, Co-op has pressed the pause button on Brentwood after lengthy consultations with both the city and the local community.Melanie Swailes, chair of the Brentwood Community Association’s development and transportation committee, said local residents had some significant concerns about how Co-op’s plans for the site would fit into the larger area redevelopment plan for the Brentwood CTrain station. Chief among those concerns was the proposed height of the residential towers — Co-op’s most recent proposal for Brentwood includes about 480 units divided between three towers, the highest being 31 storeys — as well as vehicle and pedestrian access.“The community is in favour of having development that would enhance the community. This is not a NIMBY situation where we are saying ‘no development,’” Swailes said. “But the development needs to adhere to the guidelines that are laid out in that area redevelopment plan.”Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu said he wants to see Co-op come back to the table with a better proposal — one that respects the fact that the area around the Brentwood CTrain station has already been the site of significant densification in recent years.“The city wanted density and the Brentwood community has said ‘OK,’ and worked with the city on that. But where do you draw the line?” Chu said. “If they (Co-op) are going to come back again, I hope they’ll work with the community and come up with a win-win situation for everybody.”Tanzola said that with everything else on Co-op’s plate right now, the retailer has decided to “just park” the Brentwood proposal for now. In addition to the four major redevelopment projects, Co-op also has a number of new construction projects underway. At the corner of Macleod Trail and Mission Road S.W., it is building its first development to feature a residential building. “Mission Landing” will incorporate 70 affordable apartment rental units on top of a 3,995-square-foot Co-op wine, beer and spirits store, as well as a gas bar, convenience store and car wash. That project is expected to be complete in early 2020.In Sage Hill, Co-op has plans for a 37,000-square-foot “urban concept” grocery store. While the store will be Co-op’s smallest food store in the Calgary market, it will also feature a number of “exciting new technologies,” Tanzola said.“We are working through certain things around solar and greenhouse technologies, as well as electric vehicle charging stations and our e-commerce platform,” he said.There are other, smaller projects underway, too, such as new gas bars in various locations throughout the city. Calgary Co-op, which had total sales in 2017 of nearly $1.2 billion and is one of the largest retail co-operatives in North America, knows it must invest now if it wants to remain relevant and competitive in the future, Tanzola said.“It’s about reinventing ourselves and being more modern and providing a better offering to our membership,” he email@example.comTwitter.com/AmandaMsteph