Edmonton city council agrees to build $14M parking lot at Orange Hub

·3 min read
The city-owned centre houses arts, theatre and wellness non-profits and needs rehabilitation, including replacing the existing parking lot. (Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)
The city-owned centre houses arts, theatre and wellness non-profits and needs rehabilitation, including replacing the existing parking lot. (Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)

Edmonton will spend $14 million to build a new above-ground parking lot at the Orange Hub, city council decided Thursday, despite a push from some councillors to explore more development options at the site.

The existing parking lot at the city-owned centre at 100th Avenue and 156st Street needs to be demolished or permanently closed this year because of structural issues, a city report shows.

The above-ground parking lot will include 181 spaces for vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles in a three-level garage.

The city report outlined two alternative options: a surface parking lot for $5 million for 60 parking spaces and an underground parkade with 200 parking spaces for $35 million.

The Orange Hub parkade is meant to assist future access to the LRT and bus networks.

"The parkade's proposed exterior design aims to enhance the urban design of 156 street and provide a sense of place and identity for the West Jasper Place neighbourhood," the report says.

Lost opportunity

Anne Stevenson, councillor for Ward O'Day-min, suggested the city put the money aside while it looks at other ways to redevelop the site, including partnerships with tenants, non-profits and private interests to build a mixed-use residential building with an underground parkade.

"I think this is a great opportunity for us to build our vision in the city plan and demonstrate leadership in terms of the type of city we want to see built."

The site is across the street from the future Valley Line West LRT, an ideal spot to explore future mixed-use developments, said Coun. Andrew Knack.

"This is a corridor that we have identified as a primary corridor adjacent to LRT, which would be home to substantial development," Knack said.

The city bought the land that stretches from 155th to 156th street from Stony Plain Road, originally because the LRT route was going to make a 45-degree turn through the parcel of land.

The LRT route has changed and the land is free to develop.

Instead of spending $14 million on a parkade, he agreed with Stevenson the city should explore the option of leveraging partners on future development.

"I would be shocked if there weren't developers who would be very interested in building a mixed-use development across the street from the LRT."

Although Knack and councillors Michael Janz and Ashley Salvador voted in favour of Stevenson's motion, the remaining eight councillors and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voted against it.

Erin Rutherford, councillor for Anirniq, said she didn't want to alter administration's work and hours put into the project so far.

"We cannot throw into chaos, the work that's already been done," Rutherford said.

Orange Hub history

The Orange Hub is a centre for non-profit groups offering programs and services in the arts, recreation, wellness and learning. Twenty-one tenants lease space at the facility.

Built in 1979 as an arts and communications centre for Grant MacEwan Community College, the city purchased the Orange Hub in 2017.

Adam Laughlin, manager of integrated infrastructure services, outlined for council some of the challenges with the centre.

"Administration's initial recommendation was not to pursue this facility for reasons of — the degree of rehab that we were going through, the use, and potential future uses that could be available in this area."

But council at the time directed administration to buy the facility. Since then,the city's goal is to support the tenants, Laughlin added.

Demolition of the existing parking area is expected to start this spring and the new parking lot will be completed by next spring.

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