Transforming Edmonton’s Downtown East: Boyle Renaissance & The Quarters

Last week I stopped by the open house for Boyle Renaissance & The Quarters, two projects that together will transform the eastern part of Edmonton’s downtown. The Quarters is a revitalization project made up of five distinct districts, extending east-west from 97 Street to 92 Street and north-south from 103A Avenue to the top of the river valley (approximately 40 hectares). Boyle Renaissance is a smaller redevelopment effort, focused on the area between 95 Street and 96 Street, from 103A Avenue north to the LRT tracks (essentially two and half city blocks).

There were maybe 20 people in attendance, not counting the City officials and representatives from the related architectural firms. In addition to the more than 25 information displays setup around the room, there were a number of small presentations on the plans.

Boyle Renaissance / The Quarters Open House

An update on Boyle Renaissance:

  • Boyle Renaissance started with a Concept Plan in 2008, and is now an evolving Master Plan composed of two phases. The project will create a community that brings together affordable and market housing opportunities, along with services such as childcare, park space, and social space.
  • The first Boyle Renaissance Advisory Committee (BRAC I) started meeting in May 2008. Its final report was submitted to the City of Edmonton in October 2008.
  • Council directed that the concept continue to evolve, so BRAC II was formed in March 2009. Its final report was published in March 2010. You can see the recommendations to council here.
  • Phase 1 project partners include The City of Edmonton, Government of Alberta, YMCA, Boyle Street Community League, and the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC), among others. The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation is no longer involved in the project.
  • The YMCA Welcome Village is a key component of phase 1, and will include 150 affordable housing units, a family resource centre and a daycare. The City is contributing $3.5 million while the Government of Alberta has committed $24 million.
  • The City of Edmonton is also contributing $6 million towards a new Community Centre, a joint initiative with the Boyle Street Community League.
  • Though none have come forward yet, the City is actively looking for potential partners to occupy the York Hotel building.
  • Updated documents aren’t online yet, but you can see the information displays here.
  • “We’re not building buildings, we’re helping to build a community.”

Part of the current Boyle Renaissance site plan, facing north.

A ground breaking ceremony for phase 1 is taking place on Wednesday morning.

Boyle Renaissance / The Quarters Open HouseBoyle Renaissance / The Quarters Open House

An update on The Quarters:

  • The revitalization project began in 2006, with the Area Redevelopment Plan being passed in April 2009.
  • The Quarters is one of the first areas in Edmonton to have a community revitalization levy (CRL). The boundary was approved in 2008. It is expected that final approval of the CRL from both Council and the Province of Alberta will come in 2011.
  • Once fully developed, it is anticipated that The Quarters could accommodate a population of nearly 20,000 people. The area is currently home to just 2400 residents.
  • The area is made up of five districts: four quarters, with a linear park corridor known as The Armature at the centre.
  • The Civic Quarter is envisioned as as an extension of the downtown and arts district. The Heritage Quarter is named for the location of Edmonton’s original downtown. The McCauley Quarter will contain smaller scale buildings and is largely residential. The Five Corners Quarter is named for the intersection at 95 Street and Jasper Avenue, and will feature taller buildings and a higher overall density.
  • The Armature itself is composed of smaller pieces, from north to south: Meridian Gateway, New City Park, The Promenade, Jasper Plaza, and River Gate Park. Principles identified in the presentation include: sustainable, accessible, green, seasonal, brighter, and creative.
  • The Armature was described as the “showpiece”.
  • The Twin Towers at Jasper Avenue and 95 Street will add to the density of the Five Corners Quarter.
  • Though each quarter will have a unique character, there are plans to “brand” the entire area, so you know when you’re in The Quarters.

Here are a few images I pulled from the Urban Design Plan (16 MB PDF).

Rendering of The Quarters.

Zoning for The Quarters.

Rendering of Five Corners.

Though some might say it has been in the works for too long, The Quarters is a very exciting project for Edmonton. The area east of downtown is definitely in need of revitalization, and this plan to bring thousands of residents into the area will help accomplish that.

Boyle Renaissance / The Quarters Open House

It’s a shame that the beautiful information displays shown at the open house are not available online (at least not yet). Hopefully we’ll see more information about these projects online soon!

7 thoughts on “Transforming Edmonton’s Downtown East: Boyle Renaissance & The Quarters

  1. Nice summary of the info presented. I was pleased with the effort made by the city to present information from several different projects at the same meeting to help avoid public engagement burnout. Did you happen to get pictures of the Two Towers illustrations?

  2. Mack,

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. As a Boyle Street resident, it’s really exciting to see the proposed Quarters/Boyle renaissance projects moving ahead.

    These investments, and their inclusive, community-focused approach, are a big part of why my husband and I chose to live in this part of the city. Coming from another (nameless) city where entire neighborhoods were razed to the ground under the auspices of ‘revitalization’, the Boyle/Quarter project is quite refreshing.

    One of the most immediate challenges raised during the presentation (I think after you left) was the ongoing saga of the community garden. The new site is pretty toxic and many folks are upset. It may seem like a small piece of the pie, but the garden is really the connective tissue of the community; a bridge between the neighborhood as it stands today and the neighborhood we want to be.

  3. Hi Carol, yes I had to get on the highway so I couldn’t stay until the very end. That’s disappointing to hear about the community garden – hopefully any issues there can be resolved so that the project can move forward. If you have any additional info on it, let me know!

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