City council approved the construction of two new downtown highrise towers that Mayor Don Atchison said represent “a great step forward” for Saskatoon.
After a public hearing Monday night, council unanimously approved zoning changes that will allow Prairie North Developments Ltd. to build a 105-metre tower at the corner of Third Avenue South and 22nd Street East and an adjacent 87-metre tower at the corner of 22nd Street East and Fourth Avenue South.
The 105-metre tower, which would include up to 29 floors, would become the city’s tallest structure.
“This eliminates urban sprawl,” Atchison said, calling the project a “sign of prosperity and confidence in our community.”
North Prairie president John Williams attended the hearing but declined to speak with media afterward. He did say he will issue a news release in January. Council did not ask Williams any questions during the hearing.
The taller tower would include about 290 residential units and 200 parking spots, while the shorter one would include up to 19 floors, including 12 floors of office space.
The buildings would also include about 55 public parking spots, which allows the developer to exceed the city’s usual downtown height limit of 76 metres.
Municipal planning commission chair Janice Braden said concerns were expressed about the street level appeal of the buildings and the cost of the residential units, but both were addressed.
Coun. Charlie Clark, in whose ward the proposed project lies, called it a “fantastic” development for the downtown and the city in general.
Clark said the inclusion of shops and restaurants at street level in the project’s plans has eliminated concerns about the effect of the buildings on prime street corners in the downtown.
The proposed project also represents a move back toward the city centre after many decades of growth in the suburbs — a change that is taking place elsewhere around the world, Clark added.
“There’s shifts in priorities and tastes and that’s starting to happen in Saskatoon,” he said. “I think there is real opportunity in our downtown.”
On Monday city council also approved splitting the vacant downtown police station into two properties to try to stir up interest in the site, which has been on the market since September of 2013 at a price of $16.5 million.
The old police station is about a block northeast of the proposed City Centre Tower site.
*sited from BY PHIL TANK, THE STARPHOENIX DECEMBER 16, 2014