I have written, many times over the years, about small-scale commercial uses in residential neighborhoods. Here in Toronto, they are generally not permitted. The small convenience stores and bodegas that remain are often legal non-conforming uses.
Today I came across a great example from Calgary. I don’t know if it was done on an as-of-right basis or if variances were needed, but it is an example of small-scale commercial on a site that used to be low-rise residential.
Here is the before (from street view):
Here is the after:
And here are a few more photos from the developer:
Developed by RNDSQR and designed by FAAS Architecture, the project houses three street front commercial units that are now leased — according to their website — to an ice cream shop, a coffee shop, and a pizza + wine bar. The second flour houses office space.
Congratulations to the team behind this development. It looks like a terrific project. And in my view, being able to leave your home and walk to things is one of the greatest urban amenities out there.
I grew up at Eglinton Ave W and Dufferin St and loved going to a local corner convenience store to buy milk for mom , and candy for my brother and I. Memories!!
I did have similar memories in TO. many many years ago! pity it has to be just a memory My daughters however live in Montreal (downtown) where these sorts of activities are commonplace.. candy and ice cream included
Having lived the majority of my life in Toronto and Ottawa where local commercial is always treated like some kind of blight this is a delight to see. I now live in Ajijic Mexico where nobody would even bother to write about this because it simply happens naturally and nothing dreadful happens to anybody. I recently posted this photo https://www.flickr.com/photos/22392855@N08/51039272432/in/album-72157645367716534/ of a local corner in our residential district and in the posting I listed the many commercial uses within the ubiquitous ten-minute radius of that particular corner. I live in that radius and if I had walked in the other direction I would have got another long list. Eateries, hardware stores convenience stores, beer stores, plant nurseries, bakeries, galleries, and small businesses of all types sit cheek by jowl with residences all over the place in perfect harmony.
I can tell you as the urban planners (CivicWorks) on the project team that this required a full rezoning and there were typical challenges to overcome at the time including parking supply and resident concerns of commercial “bleeding” into the residential neighbourhood away from an established Main Street. The end result is well loved and it has brought life to an underused edge of a large park space.
Hey Brady, thanks the comment. I feared as much. A full rezoning is such a waste. But congratulations on a great project.
have to agree with Brandon that a full rezoning is too much torture but does this mean that after all this (since it well liked) there will be other examples in Calgary?
This is not uncommon in Calgary, particularly in older inner-city communities. In this case the rezoning and local plan amendment were approved in under 4 months. I think we will start to see more of these types of neighbourhood commercial developments in Calgary. Since this project was approved there has been progress on removing commercial parking minimums and the sands are (slowly) shifting toward greater emphasis on form rather than use.
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