Tuesday afternoon I attended the Info session for the proposed expansion of the 13th Avenue Safeway store (11-Z-10/11-DU-16) and lane closure (11-CL-4).
The proposal will expand the current Safeway from about 18 000 square feet to a little over 38 000 square feet. In order to create this space, the back lane will be closed and moved South, while also removing 4 houses currently located behind the Safeway. If all the development paper work goes smoothly, construction could start by Jan 2012 and could take a year to complete.
The project will take place in phases, allowing the current store to operate while the addition is being constructed. Once the addition is complete, the current building will be removed and the store completed. The pharmacy will remain open through out and new sections and selections, a bakery and organics, among others, will be added. A Starbucks will be put in too. There are floor plans of both the midway point and the final store from P3Architects via the city’s website here.
The parking lot will be changed, with the two entry ways along 13th Ave removed for one, closer to the centre (this is hoped to reduce traffic congestion at the Robinson and Retallack intersections). The parking will no longer be angled, instead 45 degree ‘regular’ parking will be introduced.
The rendering suggests pocket parks at the parking lot corners and increased landscaping. The store front will be contiguous all along rather than having setback wings as in its current state. The Scotiabank will stay, but the other users (laundry, hair salon and bagel shop) and retail spaces will be removed.
I came into the meeting concerned about losing the modernist facade (see Prairie Dog for Vanda Schmockel’s post about the 13th Ave Safeway’s modernist architecture, followed by a lively discussion) and small business spaces.
After speaking to some of the event staff, it seems those pieces may be a done deal. When mentioning the facade, Safeway’s construction manager noted how energy inefficient it was. A fair point, although I imagine many older buildings fit that description (lets knock down the Leg?). When I raised the idea of corporate branding, the people I was speaking to conceded that was part of it too, even with the various Safeway store conservation counter examples.
The Robinson St. mural was another, for me, more minor, concern in replacing the existing building. The site elevations presented, however, made it obvious that the plain building colour and large blank areas at the sides and especially at the back, would be a magnet for graffiti. It wouldn’t be long before something colourful was covering the walls again.
It would be quite cleaver of Safeway to follow other neighbourhood businesses and create murals/street art for these spaces. Commission a piece every few years, make it relevent to your products and image (garden scene maybe) and engage local artists. Below are some examples.
I was taking my time compiling comments when I realized I hadn’t asked about bicycle parking. So I did. The answer I got was frustrating. The people I spoke to assured me there would be bike parking, but they didn’t know where it would go. I suggested rack space large enough for people to use trailers, chariots or other large carriers to allow people to grocery shop on their bikes. I spoke to one consultant at length about cycling and she suggested that some combination of bicycle infrastructure and art (see RPL example below) could accomplish multiple goals.
The reaction I got was positive, but there were few details to chew on. So, as was suggested, I looked into the minimum bicycle parking requirements to get an idea of what must be included.
One must begin with the car parking requirements to find out the minimums for bikes. From the Regina Zoning Bylaw 9250, Chapter 14 Parking, page 14.21, Table 14.6: Off-street parking requirements for commercial uses for the category ‘Grocery Stores’ b) DC3 ii) “for the portion in excess of the first 325 square metres in the gross floor area”. The minimum number of parking spaces is: ” 1 space per 50 square metres of gross floor area”.
So, for a the 3551.4 metre squared proposed Safeway, less 325 square metres and divided by 50 returns, roughly, 65 parking stalls. The proposal includes 135 stalls, once again exceeding parking minimums.
In Regina Zoning Bylaw 9250, Chapter 14 Parking, page 14.10, Table 14.3: “Required Bicycle Parking Spaces”. The only applicable ‘type of use’ would be ‘shopping centre’ and the number of spaces required is: “10% of required vehicle spaces.” That comes to a minimum of about 7 bicycle spaces.
I hope, the larger parking count for the project or some understanding of Cathedral neighbourhood residents will lead to 15 to 20 bicycle parking spaces.
Further regulation stipulates performance standards: that bicycle parking spaces are “Visible from the use for which the spaces are provided.” And, “Located on the same lot as the principal use or within 20 metres of the lot.”
Table 14.2 (page 14.9) also sets out bicycle rack size standards of 0.6096 metres in width and 1.8288 metres in length.
How would these standards compare to a bike plus trailer for the grocery shopping cyclist? Searching for chariot lengths on google, the first one I found was 1.10 metres in length. In a similar search, a common bike length was about 1.70 metres. Therefore, bicycle parking with trailers, chariots and alike for transporting groceries should provide about 3 metres of space, close to double the minimum requirement.
I’m not holding my breath. Clearly, bicycle parking, having not been included on any of the renderings, is still an administrative duty, an after thought, rather than a conscious effort to promote low-carbon transport.
My take away:
First, the use is more important than other considerations. Cathedral needs a grocery store.
Second, because it’s a private company, playing well with the neighbourhood and jumping through all the hoops, don’t expect any opposition from city council, even if you, as a concerned citizen, voice your opinion to your councilor.
Third, deal with Safeway. If you want changes, talk to them.