Metro file photo A wing of King Edward School will play host to a pre-demolition arts project next month.

Pending a vote at city council Monday, restoration is set to begin on an historic Calgary school, eventually turning it into a $25-million “arts incubator” in the Marda Loop area.

“This is the culmination of the last two years with of work we’ve been doing with not only the arts community, but the local community in South Calgary,” said Reid Henry of cSPACE Projects, who is spearheading the unique undertaking.

The plan is to convert the now-shuttered King Edward School into a multi-disciplinary arts space, funded largely through the sale the school’s former playground land for residential development.

Henry said that involved doing some “interesting stuff” with the city’s planning department.

“No one really knows what an incubator is; no land use has ever thought of preparing for that,” he said.

“We created a very customized land use for this project that is unique, I think, to Calgary and to Canada.”

Ald. Brian Pincott said he is excited to see the project take shape and expects council to duly approve the area’s land-use amendment on Monday.

“Moving forward with an arts incubator space, reviving a city block and a heritage school that has been closed and languishing for years – I think it’s all pretty exciting,” Pincott said.

Some area residents have said they’re worried about the project’s impact on parking and traffic, but Anne Kaufmann of the Marda Loop Communities Association said numerous public forums and community discussions have eased some of those concerns.

“I think we’ve dealt with the people who are directly across the street from it and they’ve kind of come around to see that it’s for the benefit of the whole community and the city,” she said.

Project details:

  • City council voted in July 2011 to direct $5 million in provincial MSI funding toward the project.
  • The project would see low-density, multi-unit residential development on land to the west of the school and medium-density development to the east.
  • The three-storey, sandstone school opened in November 1913 and closed as a public school in 2000 due to declining inner-city enrolment.

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