ArtsCommon project moves ahead Partners now seeking remaining funding from various other sources

A major transformation of Alberta Avenue is moving steadily toward the first groundbreaking, with the grassy space at 92 Street and 118 Avenue to house the four-storey ArtsCommon 118 community hub.

One artist rendering of the future ArtsCommon 118. | Supplied by ECDC

But before they move ahead, partners Arts on the Ave (AOTA) and Edmonton Community Development Company (ECDC) still have funding and zoning work to get through.  

On Aug. 29, the partners held a public consultation on the grassy space, where about 120 residents shared their vision on the future arts-and-food centre.

“We wanted to get people’s ideas and feedback before moving to detailed drawings,” said Mark Holmgren, executive director of ECDC.

There was, overall, significant support for the project and lots of ideas shared, he said.

As Alberta Avenue district’s arts, culture and community-building hub, the ArtsCommon 118 design includes 78 affordable live-work art studios, plenty of market space, a performance and exhibition space holding up to 200 people, and a free music program for disadvantaged youth.

The plan is to start building in late 2019 or early 2020. | Supplied by ECDC

Arts on the Ave is part of the genesis of the project, with AOTA executive director Christy Morin starting talks with former mayor Stephen Mandel back in 2007.

“We began talking about this with the mayor, and it is really great that this vision is coming together,” said Morin. “We are delighted and happy that ECDC has reached out in support of it.”

The space will include features like live-work studios, market space, exhibition space, and a free music program. | Supplied by ECDC

The city donated the grassy lot for the two-building project. ECDC bought the narrow strip of ground at its southern edge and the vacant lot next to the Nina Haggerty Centre, both of which provide footage for surface parking.

Some significant features include rooftop farming and market space for fresh produce.

On Aug. 29, about 120 people attended the public consultation. | Bin Lao

“Educational programs on [things like] urban farming, beekeeping, and food preparation are a part of our intent,” said Holmgren. “Having farmers and night markets will add to the local economy, support the buy local movement, and bring people together from all walks of life.”

ArtsCommon 118 will cost roughly $43 million. The city has already contributed $4 million, but ECDC is now seeking grants from other levels of government to cover some of the rest.

People checked out the plans for ArtsCommon 118. | Supplied by ECDC

Proposals are either out or being drafted to the province, the federal government, and the city, said Holmgren.

“Our goal is to have a zero or very minimal mortgage in order to keep rents low.”

Although it was a rainy day, people were interested in checking out the plans for ArtsCommon 118. | Supplied by ECDC

Given the time needed to assemble funding and go through the development/zoning phase, ECDC envisions breaking ground in late 2019 to early 2020. The open date is anticipated for late summer or fall 2021.  

The report on public engagement is available at www.edmontoncdc.org

Featured Image: ArtsCommon will cost approximately $43 million. | Supplied by ECDC

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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