Developer envisions sea can marketplace next to historic train station in Old Strathcona

·3 min read
Two sea cans sit on the Beljan-owned lot north of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Old Strathcona, which is a municipal and provincial historic resource.  (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)
Two sea cans sit on the Beljan-owned lot north of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Old Strathcona, which is a municipal and provincial historic resource. (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)

A local development company is pitching to build a low-rise commercial space and a mid-rise residential building next to the historically significant Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Old Strathcona.

Beljan Development is asking the city to rezone the lot at 81st Avenue and Gateway Boulevard so the company can build to the north and the south of the train station.

Built in 1907, the train station is a municipal and provincial historic resource.

Chris Dulaba, a planner with Beljan, said rezoning the lot will protect the historic designation.

"Nothing is changing with that building — all we're doing with our rezoning is developing really underutilized pieces of land that have been there for decades," Dulaba said Monday.

City administration approves of the rezoning application, which goes in front of a public hearing June 8 and must be approved by council.

In a report released last week, the city said Beljan's proposed developments strike an appropriate balance between the Strathcona redevelopment plan and the historic CPR Station.

"The city's heritage planners are satisfied that the proposed redevelopment of the lands adjacent the historic station are consistent with all relevant heritage requirements," the city report says.

Rendering of the proposed Beljan development at Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue.
Rendering of the proposed Beljan development at Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue.(Beljan Development)

The plan leaves a six-metre buffer between the station and the marketplace so people can still enjoy the station view from the west.

The company plans to use shipping containers to create the commercial space, in a kind of temporary marketplace.

Dulaba envisions an array of businesses would move in to the prime spot just off Whyte Avenue.

"A lot of food and beverage tenants are very interested in this development," he said. "So anything from bakeries to craft breweries, distilleries, that sort of end user is very much interested in this type of space."

Dulaba said the shipping container style is very different for Edmonton.

"We think it can provide a platform for new entrepreneurs or existing entrepreneurs to have some presence, physical bricks and mortar presence in Old Strathcona literally within steps of Whyte Avenue."

The company is also planning to build a seven to eight storey residential complex south of the station in an existing parking lot for up to 125 units.

Business support

The Old Strathcona Business Association supports most of the proposed development, said executive director Cherie Klassen.

The space off Gateway Boulevard would attract new business.

"It really activates a corridor that's really underutilized right now and it's going to increase pedestrian traffic east and west of Gateway Boulevard, which is also something we're quite supportive of."

But Klassen said she and the OSBA board will advocate for the city park just north of the lot to continue to be used as a public space.

"Certainly we've heard concerns about that green space being lost," Klassen said. "The green space right on Avenue is highly coveted and we also covet that land because there's very little green space."

Klassen is looking forward to the developer helping to enhance the pedestrian space between 80th and 82nd and the city adding a sidewalk on east side of Gateway, where there's no sidewalk.