Natalie Mikus on downtown revitalizaiton

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The future of St. Albert’s downtown is a topic that’s been present in this community for years.

Should there be a focus on attracting businesses and more population density to the core?

Is it fine the way it is now?

And what’s the city’s role? Should council show leadership in trying to revitalize downtown, or should council play hands-off?

Currently St. Albert does have a plan in place. The downtown area redevelopment plan was signed off on in 2010, but it still causes controversies today.

The plan was developed as a guide for development in St. Albert’s downtown for the next 25 years.

That vision includes open spaces, more population density, taller buildings and a more pedestrian-friendly experience.

Some of the city-driven projects are finally getting underway, with construction on the St. Anne Street realignment starting this summer.

Many have voiced concerns over the realignment, while others are still are frustrated by changes to parking downtown.

Further into the future, other plans on the city’s radar include a revamp of Millennium Park, other road improvements and a civic square.

But the plan – also known by its acronym, DARP – is more than just a list of city projects.

It also seeks for private investment to help bring the vision to reality.

There are some proposals already on the board that could be considered DARP-friendly.

One is the Grandin mall redevelopment proposed by Amacon, which includes towers and more residences.

Another that has been toyed with is a new office building for the chamber of commerce. That organization’s vision includes parking, a civic square and retail space as well as offices.

As council moves to firm up its 10-year capital plan, DARP-projects will be on the table.

Just this week, the economic development department launched a new campaign aimed at attracting businesses into the core.

So the Gazette asked candidates about their support for the revitalization plans and what they think should be done to help downtown thrive.

Question:

Do you support the city’s long-term plan for the revitalization of downtown? What do you specifically think the city should do to make downtown vibrant?

Answers:

Natalie Mikus

I support the basic principles of downtown revitalization, but only with responsible implementation that enhances the character of our community and considers the demands on our residential tax base. The city should continue to encourage residential density and accessibility downtown, and must strongly support expansion of retail options in the area. People and the spaces that allow people to come together create vibrancy and I’m excited about the opportunities that are present in our core.

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St. Albert Gazette

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