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Waterloo Town Square redevelopment, including the public square

MisterF

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I was at a conference in Waterloo recently which included a history and tour of the Waterloo Town Square development by city planner Rob Trotter. I got a lot of pictures.

We'll start at Willis Way. About half the mall was demolished, making room for this new street connecting Caroline to King. These storefronts are part of the mall, but their only access is to the street.

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Seagram Lofts in the background
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Parking lot behind the new buildings on King St. The city wanted to see residential development above stores but lack of parking was one reason that hasn't happened. I'm not sure why underground parking wasn't an option in the new buildings. This lot could become a parking garage in the future. The part of the lot facing Willis Way is temporary parking, and planned for future development.
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Walkway between the parking lot and King Street.
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Nicely done street level of the new buildings, although the sidewalk could use more trees.
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The public square, which officially opened the day before I was there. It's at the corner of King Street and Willis Way, and it used to be parking for the mall. The city didn't have the money for the planned reflecting pool/skating rink, so the services were roughed in for future installation. So for now the square is definitely missing something.
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The renderings show tables and chairs in the square, which aren't there yet. Overall the square is well designed and located and can only get better in the future.
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All in all it's a very positive development for Waterloo, and a big improvement from what was there a few years ago.
 

waterloowarrior

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Nice tour MisterF. I think part of the reason for the lack of underground parking is the high water table and that Laurel Creek is buried under Uptown.
 
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gabe

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I made my first visit there last Friday it's a really nice place, too bad more cities wouldn't fix up their downtowns like Waterloo. Downtown Kitchener and Uptown Waterloo are as different as day and night. Downtown Kitchener was a ghost town while Uptown Waterloo was packed! all the bistros, stores and cafe's were busy. I like that Channer's mens clothing store they have a great selection of high end clothing, there is also another mens store near by in the old train station called Paul Puncher Menswear, both stores were busy considering they carry mostly Zegna, Armani and Hugo Boss lines.
 
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nfitz

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I'm not sure why underground parking wasn't an option in the new buildings.
Between nearby (covered) Laurel Creek, the coal tar under city hall (former gasworks), and the TCE flowing into the old Seagram's well (still pumping, so as to protect the nearby William Street wellfield ... and I've always figured the reason Seagram's left town, was that TCE was showing up in their water supply, and they wanted to get out of their before someone realised what was in their 10-year old Scotch) ... I'd think that there would be a lot of concern about the amount, and quality, of the groundwater they'd have to pump out of an underground garage. That and being near the floodplain, there would be the risk of the whole thing being underwater at times.
 

SP!RE

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Precisely. In the planning documents I have for those office/retail buildings (somewhere... who knows where I put it) it stated that the entrances to the stores were actually recommended to be up on a higher level, up a few steps for example. They had to work out the site so that they could make it a more subtle incline than that-- not sure really how they avoided that recommendation from the city. But it also stated that (obviously) that would have been far worse for the streetscape. Those sites used to be a big street-fronting parking lot so it never was an issue. But the area is a floodplain.

On Regina Street (runs parallel to King Street) the buildings all have arcades along the ground level of the building that you have to go up a few steps to access. The retail (now used as offices or dead entrances) along those buildings was up a few stairs and along these arcades. (Example: Waterloo City Centre or Region of Waterloo Public Health buildings).
 

MisterF

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Precisely. In the planning documents I have for those office/retail buildings (somewhere... who knows where I put it) it stated that the entrances to the stores were actually recommended to be up on a higher level, up a few steps for example. They had to work out the site so that they could make it a more subtle incline than that-- not sure really how they avoided that recommendation from the city. But it also stated that (obviously) that would have been far worse for the streetscape. Those sites used to be a big street-fronting parking lot so it never was an issue. But the area is a floodplain.

On Regina Street (runs parallel to King Street) the buildings all have arcades along the ground level of the building that you have to go up a few steps to access. The retail (now used as offices or dead entrances) along those buildings was up a few stairs and along these arcades. (Example: Waterloo City Centre or Region of Waterloo Public Health buildings).
Now that you mention it the new buildings on King have steps inside the entrances so the stores themselves are above the floodline. True, there are lots of contraints to building underground, although undergound parking in floodplains isn't unheard of. Hopefully a garage will be built on Caroline St to free up parking space for more development...and to avoid more single storey development.
 

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