City to develop underused parking lot near Franklin LRT station

This park-and-ride lot on the south side of the Franklin LRT station is being considered for redevelopment. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)
This park-and-ride lot on the south side of the Franklin LRT station is being considered for redevelopment. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)

The City of Calgary is working on a transit-oriented development plan for the Franklin LRT station in the southeast.

An element of the new housing strategy approved by city council last year was to take steps toward redeveloping under-utilized city land as housing.

That includes possible transit-oriented-developments (TOD) near CTrain and bus rapid transit stations.

The planning lead for TOD for the city, David Couroux, said of the more than 100 sites that have been assessed for future redevelopment, the park-and-ride lot on the south side of Franklin station scored high.

He said the site is close to employment, has good access to the city's downtown, and that there are schools and plenty of retail amenities within a short distance.

Couroux called it an exciting project to work on for his team's first TOD project.

"It is a little bit unprecedented in the sort of city owned land that we are proposing to redevelop," he said.

"It's also really exciting to be able to contribute to the housing strategy and [try] to solve some of the challenges that have been identified in that strategy."

Plan coming soon

The city has hired a consultant to work on concepts for the five acre site.

There will also be public engagement with the surrounding area about the potential redevelopment.

Couroux said it's too early to say how the city might proceed with the project. It could sell the parcel outright, or it could work with a development partner in either the private or non-profit sector.

The city also wants to make improvements to the public realm along Radcliffe Drive and upgrade a nearby playground.

Site on councillor's radar

The area's city councillor, Gian-Carlo Carra, said he's delighted that Franklin station is the first TOD project out of the gate.

Carra said a potential redevelopment of the site was part of his masters' thesis in 2005. He said moving ahead with projects is part of both the new housing strategy and within council's declaration of a climate emergency.

"The absolute gold standard for addressing both of those things is turning parking lots around our transit stations into mixed use, high density mini-downtowns for the surrounding neighbourhoods," said Carra.

The city's goal might be to create more affordable housing but the councillor said that may not make up 100 per cent of what's built at Franklin station.

"I think in order to be successful, we will have a variety of different housing types and a variety of different price points. There will be some market housing. There will be some just the line affordable rentals and stuff like that. And there might be some more deep subsidy stuff."

While concepts and who will actually build the housing will be ironed out in the coming months, it's expected a proposal will go to the Calgary Planning Commission and city council by the end of the year.

No date has been set for construction. Until that gets sorted, Calgary Transit will continue to use the site as a park-and-ride lot.

Even once the lot is closed, Franklin station will still offer parking spaces for commuters. There's another lot located on the north side of Memorial Drive near the station.