Former Travelaire site to host restaurants, shops

The former Travelaire site on Red Deer’s west side will be transformed into a commercial development.

The former Travelaire site on Red Deer’s west side will be transformed into a commercial development.

Tenants have yet to be announced for the property being developed by Edmonton-based Canadian Urban Ltd. at Johnstone Drive and 67th Street, but project manager Dan Gilbertson said it will be similar to other commercial sites that include a mix of fast food restaurants and other shops. An anchor tenant is expected to fill the largest of the eight buildings proposed in a concept plan unanimously approved by the city’s municipal planning commission on Wednesday.

“The uses that we have planned are typical of most of the strip mall centres around town,” said Gilbertson, who is with Al-Terra Engineering Ltd. “But we’re still in negotiations with different tenants.”

“There are potentially some that are new to Red Deer and area. So that is exciting and hopefully that turns out.”

Construction of the first buildings is expected to take place later this year. One industrial building will remain at the site on a separate parcel.

The property was purchased by Canadian Urban Ventures GP from Travelaire’s parent company, Glendale International Corp., in 2007. Travelaire, which manufactured recreational vehicles, continued to lease and use the land until Glendale filed for bankruptcy in January 2010.

Presentation of plans for the site spawned a lengthy debate among planning commission members about walkable communities and how best to gear the site to pedestrians and drivers.

Commission member Coun. Paul Harris was concerned that the site design paid too little attention to pedestrian habits.

“Although it’s got enhanced landscaping, I still think we’re building it for the car,” said Harris.

Coun. Cindy Jefferies felt the layout of sidewalks did not serve the public who may want to walk to the development from nearby businesses or hotels. The site’s four proposed commercial drive-throughs were also questioned.

“I’m concerned about the number of drive-throughs. I see that in Clearview (Market Square) and I’m not convinced it’s the way to go.”

Changing the route of sidewalks could prove complicated because of the layout of the property, which requires room be left for a drainage pond, future road widening and other considerations, the commission was told. Adding more direct pedestrian access to the site must also be balanced against safety issues and the location of parking and drive-through lanes.

Kim Fowler, the city’s director of planning, said trying to make the development more pedestrian-friendly could mean it doesn’t meet the city’s parking standards. The developers have exceeded city landscaping requirements in its design, she added.

Whether there are too many drive-throughs is a land use issue that would have to be looked at separately, said Fowler. Under the city’s current rules, the drive-throughs are permitted.

Gilbertson said the design was the result of extensive work with city planning staff and engineers.

“We have put great effort into trying to make this walkable,” he said.

The commission agreed to add a note to the motion asking the developer to explore enhanced pedestrian access at the site as it moves forward on the project.

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