February 28th, 2024

Towne Square plans finalized

By COLLIN GALLANT on December 9, 2021.

An artist's rendering of a planned Towne Square, which is being developed kitty-corner to city hall on First Street SE in downtown Medicine Hat.--SUPPLIED IMAGE

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

A final look at the city plan to build a food truck alley and market stalls on the 603 First Street lot across from city hall have been approved by the city’s planning commission.

Work on the “Towne Square” got underway last summer with repaving the parking lot and installing some landscaping aspects and decorative barriers – none of which required a development permit.

However, on Wednesday, the city’s land development office, Invest Medicine Hat, applied to erect shade canopy and place 16 metal sea-cans on the site that would eventually be rented as bays to vendors during “pop-up” markets.

Sea-cans, measuring eight-feet wide and 20-feet-long, would be angled to open under the canopy at the west side of the length of First Street, while the canopy could be extended to the west end, where stalls ready for food vending trucks would be located.

Since the land is zoned as under the “Direct Control” of council, the permit will need further approval by council members.

Most of the site will remain lined for parking, totalling 50 stalls, but when initial plans were announced in early 2021, officials said it served as convertible event and festival hosting space.

The project – located at the scene of several failed sales attempts by the city since 2009 – was approved by council in late 2020 as it applied for federal and provincial COVID stimulus grants.

It was eventually awarded $2 million by Ottawa, and since the summer, LMT Enterprises has been working on the site.

City planning staff considering the application this fall say the canopy and market fits with an overarching vision for downtown as a commercial venue with increasing need to host events.

A setback relaxation was required for sea-can placement, but there were no concerns in terms of utilities or transportation.

The site does, however, extend into portions of both Sixth Avenue and First Street, something city project engineers say was done to improve the site for the project and its eventual marketability in the future.

Those portions are currently categorized as municipal road right-of-way and will need to be rezoned and included in the land package.

As well, conditions on the development will include conglomerating four separate legal lots. A requirement that the city pay $12,400 in off-site levy fees on the project was waived by the city manager.

The municipality collects those fees to recover costs of infrastructure upgrades when a site moves to a more intensive use. In this case, fees would be due if the lot is sold and redeveloped with higher road, water or sewer needs.

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