A group of residents in the southwest Calgary community of Marda Loop have come together to voice their opposition to a proposed development and further densification in the neighborhood.
At issue is a land use application from Sarina Homes along 33 Avenue SW that will begin the rezoning of seven properties at the corner of 19 Street SW
Rezoning of those properties would allow for a six-story building with 120 residential units and ground-floor commercial space with additional residential units.
“Given that this is the fifth building in five blocks by the same developer with the same kind of design, it’s a tipping point for the citizens and community members,” Kerry Parker Smith with Save Our Marda Loop told Global News.
According to the city’s development map, the proposed building would be 23 meters high; over the current maximum of 10 meters.
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Parker Smith, who lives near the site, said there are several concerns about the proposal, including its size.
“We are adjacent to two-storey properties, so the transition is not sensitive and the size of it is so out of scope,” she said.
“We think there are many more suitable locations for that within Marda Loop.”
Other concerns for residents in the area are the neighborhood’s road infrastructure, and the potential impact of the proposed development on traffic and parking around the site.
Cristiano de Carvalho lives in a mixed-use development also built by Sarina Homes in the area. She is concerned about pedestrian safety.
“You have two sets of lights there, and you always wait by those lights; it’s a big clog,” Carvalho said.
“People are trying to cross the street (and) they almost have to stick their heads out to cross because people just fly down that street. It’s bad enough.”
Save Our Marda Loop has started a petition against the proposed rezoning of the site. It had nearly 200 signatures by Tuesday.
The petition’s website lists several reasons for the community’s opposition to the proposal, including its location outside the commercial area outlined in the Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan. It also says the proposal is inconsistent with existing land use zoning.
According to the City of Calgary, the application to rezone the land falls within the South Calgary/Altadore Area Redevelopment Plan, which will need to be amended to accommodate the proposed rezoning.
“While we are almost done reviewing this application, it still needs to go to the Calgary Planning Commission, followed by a public hearing of council for discussion and possible approval,” Ashley Parks, a community planning co-ordinator with the City of Calgary, said in a statement to Global News.
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If the site is rezoned, many of the residents’ concerns such as overall building mix, design, size and details such as parking, landscaping and site access will be determined at a later date, when a development permit is submitted for the site.
“A lot of community members are very amenable to much lower elevations — ideally no commercial space,” Parker Smith told Global News.
Alkarim Devani, an industry expert and the president of a development firm called RNDSQR, said the City of Calgary is trying to provide certainty to residents and the industry when it comes to increasing growth in downtown communities.
Devani said the desire to develop higher density projects in Marda Loop is due to a demand for different types of housing in a community with many amenities and walkability.
“There is a lot of organic growth and developers who are genuinely interested in these neighborhoods. That interest only comes because there is a market demand,” Devani said.
“Developers are not going to go out and build where there is no demand for product. I think that’s why you see a lot of pressure within this corridor, within these neighborhoods specifically.”
Sarina Homes did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.
Residents told Global News there have been several engagement sessions between the community and the developer, with another virtual engagement session scheduled for Wednesday night.
However, Parker Smith said many residents want to see the existing rules in place enforced.
“I think I can say that most of our community’s residents are very supportive of densification,” she said. “But it has to be in a thoughtful way and in a sustainable way.”
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