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Rumour mill now slowly turning at Eau Claire

By DJ Kelly January 16, 2008

While we are on the topic of unsubstantiated rumours I might as well give all you fine looking readers out there another one.

I assume you’d like that because yesterday was a banner day for our little blog here – most visits since inception! Hot damn. That might be because I was asking everyone to vote for the djkelly.ca Blog at the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards (something I feel kinda dirty about doing) or because I finally directed all my Facebook friends to the blog for the first time. But I’m going to ignore that post and instead pretend we had so many visitors because you liked the post on the rumours about the Bow’s public space.

But don’t get too used to me feeding your regular gossip fix. I’m no Us Weekly (heck I’m no Star magazine either, so that’s not saying much about me). So here’s the poop:

Talking yesterday about the National Portrait Gallery got me thinking about the $500,000 Calgary city council approved for a “bid” to land the gallery. But I wouldn’t think you would just approve a half million dollars without having some idea as to where you’d put the darn thing.

So here’s the rumour: Mr. Mayor himself is eyeing the Eau Claire Market land for the National Portrait Gallery. This wouldn’t be too tough actually because the Market itself is slated for demolition and redevelopment. (Presumably to make way for another failed project.) Certainly this site would be prime real estate for a project of this kind. The Eau Claire area is a bit of a crown jewel – sitting right on the river in the heart of downtown – and as such any redevelopment to this area should be something we would be extremely proud of and would want to show off to visitors. If an art gallery were to be put in this place the architecture would have to be grand.

A little bit of info on the Eau Clair site for you: The market itself was sold in May 2004 to Harvard Developments and Synergy Properties who each own/are investors in several other Calgary shopping spots. In July 2007 they announced the new “market” would be a different kind of shopping centre with high rise condos as part of the project. The important thing to note in this is that the City has included a clause in their agreement that they must approve drawings for any redevelopment, meaning they’ll have their eye on the grander vision of the area.

Perhaps this is why I’m also hearing the rumour that Dave Bronconnier really has his heart set on an Opera House for this site. Although, why Calgary needs an opera house is beyond me. Certainly we don’t have the demand for opera to warrant an entire design specific building in the heart of downtown for this exclusive use, so the building would have to be multi-use. And we already have that in the Jubilee.

I don’t plan on calling the Mayor to ask him if the rumours are true. Unsubstantiated rumours are so much more fun. I doubt he’d take my calls anyway. But if you must know if its true perhaps the aldermen that read this blog could shed some light – or send Bronco a text asking. Or maybe the alderman that should read this blog could ask.

  • calgarygrit

    An opera house makes no sense to me…but the portrait gallery could be put into a multi-purpose building easier and might work. I still think Ottawa will win the bid for it, but I could see the Calgary bid showcasing that site.

  • calgarygrit

    An opera house makes no sense to me…but the portrait gallery could be put into a multi-purpose building easier and might work. I still think Ottawa will win the bid for it, but I could see the Calgary bid showcasing that site.