Calgarians say goodbye to iconic Eau Claire Market as next chapter begins – Calgary

Calgarians say goodbye to iconic Eau Claire Market as next chapter begins – Calgary

Friday was the last day the Eau Claire Market doors were open, and work will begin this summer to demolish the site.

The closure marked a new chapter for the location that has a colorful history that even nods to one of Calgary’s first industries: logging. The name of the market was chosen by three American lumber experts who happened to be from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

It was a very different area when Eau Claire Market opened to help revitalize the downtown area near the river, hoping it would become a destination similar to Vancouver’s Granville Island.

In 1993, Eau Claire Market opened its doors after the removal of the bus barns that previously resided in the area. Now those doors are closed forever, setting the stage for the space to be demolished this summer to make way for the Green Line.

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Click to play video: 'Eau Claire Market Closing Paves Way for New Greenline Plaza and LRT Station'

Closing of Eau Claire Market paves way for new plaza and Greenline LRT station

While some people are disappointed by the impending demolition, others are excited about what the next chapter will reveal.

City of Calgary project manager Dennis Hoffart said the land upgrade will meet the needs of many more people than its predecessor.

“We are looking for this plaza to be able to host civic events, cultural events, social events of up to three to four thousand people,” Hoffart said, adding that the project is on time and on budget to open next year.

“But it will also be flexible enough to support day-to-day activities, social gatherings, if you want to meet someone for coffee, maybe meet up with some friends and play bocce ball at lunch, all winter long, in all seasons. seasons”.

Construction continues on the $49 million redevelopment of Eau Claire Plaza.

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The new space will also be redesigned to withstand a one-in-a-hundred-year flood and will connect nearby elements, including the future Eau Claire Market, according to former City Councilman Druh Farrell.

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“All of this has the opportunity to integrate with Prince’s Island, the Jaipur Bridge, the LRT stop, this new development, the track system – it all has to intertwine.”

Eau Claire Market: from hope to upheaval to failure

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At the time, it was a new type of shopping center that Calgarians were not accustomed to and the city was eager to open its doors to much fanfare and excitement.

“I have memories from way back, even before I lived in the area, of going to the Imax, coming here as an event to come here and see the cool new mall when it was new in the ’90s,” Peg Oneil recalled. area resident and president of the Eau Claire Community Association.

Eau Claire Market was designed to become a connector attracting Calagrians from all quadrants and the county’s 7th District. Terry Wong fondly refers to the market as a community center.

“A cornerstone for where people could come, sit, have a bite to eat, do some shopping and at the same time enjoy the Prince’s Island Park area,” Wong said.

Throughout its life, Eau Claire Market has been host to many festivals and events that brought people to the island while also attracting customers to local retailers, the Imax theater and some renowned restaurants such as Joeys, Barley Mill, the nearby Old Spaghetti Factory and even a Hard Rock Café when the market opened.

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“The Hard Rock was there; it was great for Calgary to have a Hard Rock; usually we had to go to Las Vegas or wherever to see a Hard Rock,” Oneil said.

One chapter closes, another opens.

But its initial success was not sustainable, and the quirky mall struggled to keep stores busy and the once-bustling aisles quickly faded.

The market’s days have been numbered for years, and when the green line was approved, the fate of the once popular destination was sealed.

As an iconic era fades, all its highs and lows are remembered as a new one begins.

In normal times it was great. “I loved the theater, I loved the restaurants, I spent a lot of time walking and hanging out, I was very social, I was really nice,” Oneil added.

Harvard Developments, the company that owns the building, thanks all the business owners who called Eau Claire Market home for four decades.

“Even though its doors have closed, the spirit of Eau Claire Market will live in the hearts of our community forever.”

A bittersweet (and for some, simply bitter) goodbye

While many businesses in Eau Claire have already moved, for those that have not, this closure is bittersweet.

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At Eau Claire Hair Salon, Saner Zidan spent the last day finishing up some appointments. It is the end of what was a 20-year career in the same place and Zidan is full of mixed emotions.

“It’s hard to let it go, it’s not my choice. The city made the decision to have something different,” Zidan said. “I have to say it’s a different era, I think it will be great for the future I guess.”

As for what’s next, Zidan plans to stay in the area (across the street, in fact) and hopes to start over.

An iconic building.

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Store owners aren’t the only ones packing up and moving. Just across the street from the market, townhouse owners in River Run are clearing out the last of their belongings.

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The city expropriated the properties to make more room for construction in the area, although residents have been fighting the measure since 2019.

The City of Calgary provided Global News with a statement saying expropriation is never its preferred method of acquisition.

The city said it has “provided proposed payments to River Run unit owners in accordance with the (Alberta) Expropriation Act, which are based on independent appraisals.”

– with files from Doug Vaessen and Meghan Cobb