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Businesses forced to relocate or shutter ahead of Eau Claire Market demolition

Calgary’s Eau Claire Market is scheduled for demolition this summer to make way for the eventual construction of a CTrain station on site, and many businesses housed by the building are scrambling.

The 170,000-square-foot indoor market, which opened in 1993 and was a hub for shopping, entertainment and community events, will be handed over to the city on May 31.

Demolition will follow in July, according to current owner Harvard Developments, which notes it will retain a five-and-a-half-acre portion of land on the west and south sides for its own redevelopment.

“So, we are currently approved for next use density of close to 2.1 million square feet,” said Rosanne Hill Blaisdell.

“That’s a little large now that we’re selling a portion of the land, but we still very much intend to develop a major residential area with commercial grade.

“At the end of the day, that mix of uses, including entertainment, restaurants, all kinds of other amenities and services, a grocery store, drug store, theatre, etc. will all be part of the future redevelopment.”

Blaisdell says office space in the area is also being considered.

The Joey Eau Claire and Local Public Eatery will remain in their locations.

Several other business owners inside the market, however, are not lucky enough to keep their leased spaces.

Nadia Samnani, co-owner of Island Foods YYC Calgary, has had her family business set up in Eau Claire Market for 20 years.

“Obviously, traffic has really diminished here. Even during COVID times, it wasn’t this bad. It’s just that ever since the construction started … we’ve just seen less and less people coming every day because no one wants to be in an area where there’s so much construction,” she said.

“We do have another spot possibly in the making to move to, but it’s not confirmed yet.

“Places like Kensington or 17th Avenue for example are so expensive and there’s very few places you can find decent rent.”

Michael Stein, manager of Amego Electric Vehicles, just moved into the Eau Claire Market space in November of last year as part of a short-term lease.

He says Harvard Developments mentioned the possibility of an extended lease, but he knew this day was coming.

“By having a bicycle shop located downtown – one that specializes in electric bikes – we’re able to promote a healthier lifestyle for Calgarians and encourage people to ride to work instead of drive,” Stein said.

“Because we’re right near downtown, people would come by to get their bikes serviced and it entices them to keep moving. So by losing this spot, we’re kind of scrambling to find a new location, downtown, where we can continue doing what we’re doing.”

Stein says the business will move eventually, but it won’t be cheap.

“It’s difficult. Spaces are limited. You know, there’s not a ton of shops that have the square footage that I need and yeah, at a cost of about $50 to $70 a square foot, too, so you know, it’s going to be tricky finding a new spot.”

Canadian Blood Services is moving the location of its Calgary Donor Centre out of its current home in Eau Claire.

On its website, the organization said it will be moving to Penn West Plaza, located at 207 Ninth Avenue S.W., in the East Tower – seven blocks south of the current centre

The new location will be open in spring/summer 2024.

“Our current blood donor centre location in the Eau Claire Market continues to be open. The process for booking an appointment to donate blood will not change,” Canadian Blood Services said on its website.

Calgary’s Eau Claire Market is scheduled for demolition this summer to make way for the eventual construction of a CTrain station on site, and many businesses housed by the building are scrambling.

Planning for the future

Terry Wong, the city’s Ward 7 councillor, who represents the area Eau Claire Market is located, says what it will look like in terms of commercial-residential density is still to be determined.

He says the site will be a “must-visit” place for Calgarians and that it’s worth the investment.

In the meantime, construction and access to the area will be among the city’s biggest challenges in an area already dealing with utility relocations.

“It is going to be aggravated a little further now for the tunnelling and full Eau Claire portal redevelopment,” Wong said.

Wong says the city is still waiting for the Green Line team to come forward with an exact construction plan, but says consultations with community members are actively taking place.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says the project will not be one without major disruption, but will be worth it in the end.

“Anytime we’re looking at doing redevelopment, there is a balance that we have to strike between what used to be and what is coming and sometimes, the things that are in the benefit of future generations are not seen for what they can be and will be, and we focus instead on what we’ve got on the ground at this immediate time,” she said.

“So I think one of the biggest things that council has before us as well as administration is understanding that we’re planning for generations to come as well as trying to preserve things that we have in place.”

Calgary’s Eau Claire Market is scheduled for demolition this summer to make way for the eventual construction of a CTrain station on site, and many businesses housed by the building are scrambling.

Farewell festival

A farewell festival for the Eau Claire Market will be held on May 11.

The site has been the backdrop for numerous events over the years including the Calgary International Film Festival, Taste of Calgary, Pet-A-Palooza, thousands of cultural performances and its famous Canada Day celebrations.

The first phase of the Green Line is estimated to cost $5.5 billion, which will include 13 stations extending from Eau Claire to Shepard.

Once completed, the Green Line is expected to run 46 kilometres from 160th Avenue in the north to Seton in the city’s far south, marking Calgary’s largest-ever infrastructure project.

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