It’s really easy to take a very wide view of downtown revitalization. But, in fact, there some parts of downtown that need more love than others.
As Edmonton’s main street, Jasper Avenue has seen a lot of its foot traffic head north; tenants from the street’s older office buildings have moved to shiny new digs at or near the ICE District. And, the energy you feel on game nights at Rogers Place, well it doesn’t travel the four blocks south from 104th Avenue to Jasper Avenue.
Walk on Jasper Avenue, and you see a lot of “for lease” signs in windows.
And that’s why the University of Alberta’s move to shift about 500 people to its Enterprise Square campus is a big deal. That was celebrated Tuesday with a big kickoff event at the downtown campus. There was the requisite thank yous and speeches — but, walk outside the campus, see the vacant storefronts on the street, and you have all the proof you need why Jasper Avenue is crying out for more people to arrive.
“I think geographically, it’s really tough, because our fullest towers are towards the north end of downtown, closer to the ICE District,” said Puneeta McBryan, the executive director of the Downtown Business Association. “So, to have 500 people fully in the office in this location, on Jasper Avenue, is huge. That’s because Jasper Avenue is one of the trickier areas.
“It’s the fact that these (500) are new people, too,” said McBryan. “We’ve been so focused on getting existing downtown workers back to the office.”