News article with comments by CHI president Cynthia Klaassen and Lorna Cordeiro of the Century Homes Calgary project. Photos also at the link. Watch for a story on CBC tv news this evening, August 9. Condo project could replace Memorial Drive heritage homes
Opponents say century-old houses make Hillhurst distinct
By Eva Ferguson, Calgary Herald August 9, 2013 http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calga ... story.htmlCynthia Klaassen, president of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society, stands in front of a line of heritage homes on Memorial Drive that are threatened with demolition for a condo project.
Photograph by: Ted Rhodes , Calgary Herald
A unique collection of century-old, heritage homes could be levelled to make way for a new condo development along Memorial Drive, just west of the Louise Bridge.
Dobbin Group developers have made an application to rezone a strip of 13 properties between 1134 and 1160 Memorial Drive N.W. to make way for a 70-unit development of Chicago-style brownstones.
Residents in the area are worried the heavier use would result in more traffic on an already busy street that shares a backlane with a hotel and several commercial properties along Kensington Crescent, including a theatre and restaurants that have frequent backdoor deliveries.
But Cynthia Klaassen, president of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society, said demolishing this particular group of century-old homes would be a huge loss, particularly since many have been so well-maintained for years.
“All of these homes are over 100 years old,” said Klaassen, whose group is dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings and sites in Calgary.
“And if you get rid of them, the community becomes like any other.
“It is heritage homes like this that make Hillhurst-Sunnyside such a fabulous place to visit, to enjoy and to live in. They make the neighbourhood what it is.”
Lorna Cordeiro, a community resident and member of the Hillhurst-Sunnyside heritage task force, added that the Edwardian-style homes bring an important diversity and unique flavour to the community’s architecture.
“It’s about respecting the people that founded our community. Many of them lived in these homes.”
Jennifer Dobbin, spokeswoman for the project, said the new Chicago-style brownstones will have a lot of character, and will better support the community’s new transit-oriented redevelopment plan.
She argues it’s better to maintain heritage homes on the inside of the community, as opposed to the outer edge along such a busy east-west traffic route.
“If I owned a heritage home, I wouldn’t want to live on Memorial Drive at this location, it’s like a freeway.”
The development, called Memorial Drive Brownstones, proposes 70 units within a three to four storey complex, a 96-stall underground parkade, a central courtyard, and rooftop patios.
Residents at a community roundtable discussion about the project last week voiced several concerns over the additional traffic volume such a development could bring.
The alleyway is already heavily-used by commercial vehicles, and residents of the new complex may have to battle those vehicles to share the lane.
But Dobbin is proposing additional access points halfway through the complex off Memorial Drive westbound. To ease congestion, residents could turn right into the complex off Memorial Drive westbound, loop through the complex, then turn right to exit back onto Memorial.
Tim Kitchen, board chairman for the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association, said he supports higher density in the area to support transit and prevent urban sprawl.
But he, too, wonders whether increased traffic at this location, particularly through the alleyway, will benefit the area.
“Residents that live there say there’s already a lot of noise from cars, foot traffic, bikes.”
Dobbin said that’s why she hopes the development can act as a buffer between heavy traffic and the community. Units along Memorial Drive would face north instead of south, into a quieter courtyard area.
But Cordeiro argues a vital component to the new transit-oriented, area redevelopment plan is missing — formalizing a process to maintain heritage homes.
“Our entire community is now under siege,” he said.
Klaassen explained the homes along Memorial Drive’s 1100 block have never been designated as heritage properties because owners are often afraid of the many rebuilding and renovation restrictions that are placed on them.
The community itself, though, boasts a rich history.
According to the community’s website, a wave of settlers arrived in Hillhurst-Sunnyside in the early 1900s, some setting up homesteads along the road that is now 10th street, while others farmed at Riley Park and open lands west of 14th Street.
The community was also home to many who worked for the CPR and the Eau Claire sawmill just across the Bow River. Residents kept chickens, tended to vegetable gardens, and weathered regular floods from the south and occasional mud slides from the firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald