'So Edmonton it hurts': Verbal bricks hurled at new 'European' development
EDMONTON -- A new commercial development in Queen Mary Park promises to bring a "touch of European grace" to Edmonton’s 124 Street shopping area.
Manchester Square is not your average strip mall and its unique facade is proving polarizing.
A single tweet drew a mixture of opinions.
The 57,000 sqare foot development is located on the corner of 107 Avenue and 120 Street, the former site of a furniture warehouse.
It’s bookended by a pair of English-inspired towers and features 52 different multi-coloured brick facades, with acrylic stucco at points throughout.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
“It’s like London meets Paris meets Amsterdam...,” wrote @Kristennuendo.
“...and they all had this weird baby.”
The developer told CTV News Edmonton that many European countries served as inspiration for the design, including Italy, France and The Netherlands.
“Well, I was in Amsterdam a couple of years ago and it’s not quite the same,” said Sean Lee, a professional urban planner and architect of the tweet that generated the volley of opinions.
Lee said some of his Twitter comments were made in jest, but in an interview with CTV News Edmonton he reiterated he’s not a fan of Manchester Square’s look.
“It’s not something I would ask somebody to design or anything but it’s obviously going to serve some tenants well.”
The developer said he is not fazed by the criticism.
“Everyone has a right to have comments. And if they don’t want to be here, they don’t have to be,” said Anton Morgulis, CEO of 76 Group, who defended against online judgments that the facades look "inexpensive."
“These facades are extremely expensive. In fact, they are double the cost of a regular commercial building,” said Morgulis.
Many have come to the defence of Manchester Square.
“It’s a far cry from the Discount Jim’s/Brick Clearance Centre that was there before. Honestly I think it looks great,” said @Kenjurina.
Lee said he enjoyed the discussion his tweet generated, except for those who chastised him for criticizing the private venture.
“I think a public discourse is open to everybody. I don’t think someone gets to tell you you don’t get to have an opinion because you haven’t built a building,” said Lee.
“I think that makes us richer to have a free public discussion about what we want in our city.”
Manchester Square has room for 19 businesses. Before the pandemic, more than three quarters of spaces were spoken for, said Morgulis, but COVID-19 has changed that.
“A lot of people have shelved it for now and are just going to see where things are at.”
Morgulis said construction on Manchester Square is two months away from completion.