Overview of Louise Station
The Louise Station project is the culmination of years of effort and numerous reports to Council.
A concept framed during the Mayor's 2005 Roundtable on Affordable Housing attended by the public and industry experts, the project reflects a partnership with a developer to create comprehensive development including a much-needed fire hall for west downtown, affordable housing, retail, office and market residential. The two existing downtown fire stations were operating over capacity, requiring new, additional capacity to serve the existing and future residents and businesses in the downtown. With limited land options available, the inclusion of the fire station with this residential project construction was a timely opportunity.
The project achieves a primary objective of creating safe, affordable housing and municipal facilities that are successfully incorporated into a mixed use and mixed income development. The Louise Station reflects a new way for Calgary to provide municipal facilities, including affordable housing, in an inclusive and effective manner.
As a component of this project, LaCaille Group had the option to purchase the 727 1st Avenue site. The developer's option to buy the site could only occur once the fire station and affordable housing tower were fully complete. This assisted in addressing the challenges of re-locating tenants in a market with low vacancy. 727 1st Avenue was an aging affordable housing project with significant operational and maintenance challenges. These challenges, combined with complaints from neighbours, led the Calgary Housing Company to recommend that The City sell the site in 2005. The LaCaille Group has the option to purchase the 727 1st Avenue site for a price that is consistent with three appraisals from three independent and accredited appraisal firms.
The project was approved during a time when affordable housing was highly needed but also socially challenging with many communities being concerned that affordable housing would negatively impact their quality of life, safety and property values. Facilities like 727 1st Avenue are often the source of these concerns but they do not reflect the opportunity of an effectively designed and programmed development. The City will continue work with other levels of government, non-profit organizations and the private sector to create safe, inclusive affordable housing and re-profile older unsuccessful affordable housing projects. In doing so, the objective is to improve community acceptance of affordable housing and encourage private sector participation in the development of municipal facilities including affordable housing.