[14 May 2015, Calgary Herald, Jason Markusoff, p. A4]
“Council OKs ‘ visionary’ parking- free tower”
The same council that frets over the suburban parking burden created by a secondary suite or two has made Calgary history, unanimously approving a tower in East Village with 167 condos and not a single stall for tenants’ or visitors’ automobiles?
Calgary’s first parking- free condo project will be one of the only of its kind in Canada. There’s so much demand among young buyers and seniors for this option that 650 people have registered interest in the project before pre- sales begin this fall, the developer said.
The N3 Condos’ promoters were fearing council would reject it, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi was surprised it passed through council 13-0 Wednesday.
He said it’s a sign council believes in Calgary’s official smart- growth plan for a city less reliant on the automobile — “a new kind of city than what had been built before,” he explained.
“I think it really says that council has gone through an evolution matching the evolution of the city,” the mayor told reporters.
The 15- storey tower will rise next to the former St. Louis Hotel on 8th Avenue S. E. and 4th Street, a block from the City Hall LRT station. Its basement will offer ample bicycle parking, and each new unit will come with a new bike and credit for the Car2Go car- sharing service.
Several councillors who routinely fret about parking shortage on projects — basement suites or otherwise — showered this project with praise.
Andre Chabot called it “visionary.” Sean Chu, who was earlier skeptical about this project, said it’s a fair option to offer if younger Albertans are less likely to drive or own cars than they used to.
“It’s looking outside the box. We have to try something new,” said Chu. He also expressed confidence that the owner is taking all the risk on this project — if it doesn’t sell, developer Joe Starkman can return to change the zoning back to allow parking.
Under normal rules, a tower of that size would require about 100 parking stalls. Planners believe that nearby curbside spaces and parkades will serve visitor parking demand.
Nenshi said when he visits friends’ condos in downtown or the Beltline, “I never even think: do you have a visitor in your parkade. I just find parking on the street or in a nearby parkade.”
The two- bedroom units planned in the suite are as small as 460 square feet, and start at $ 199,900 — an unusually low price for a downtown condo. Starkman has said it would cost extra per unit to dig an underground car parkade.
Councillors agreed the no- parking concept isn’t for everyone, or even most people. But if it can work anywhere in Calgary, the East Village development is likely ideal, they said.
“This is probably the most perfect place in the entire city to introduce this to the marketplace,” said Coun. Gian- Carlo Carra.