Hard part comes later for Lansdowne

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Redblacks and parkland are exciting, but retail and residential may not thrill

Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

The slight panic on Roger Greenberg's face during a media tour of the Lansdowne stadium under construction last fall was unmistakable.

Faced with reporters' questions about TD Place and Lansdowne's massive retail centre opening this summer, the frontman for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group seemed a little stunned that some didn't realize that the new shops and restaurants won't be ready to open for business until the end of 2014 at the earliest — and some not until January.

"You don't just open 360,000 square feet all at once," Greenberg said.

It's a message he's repeated many times since that October 2013 news conference. Greenberg doesn't want football fans looking to grab a beer or a postgame bite to be disappointed to discover that none of the retail section of the development will be open until weeks after the Redblacks' first season ends.

(But that doesn't mean the inaugural season of our latest CFL franchise isn't the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the area's culinary offerings, so this Thursday Citizen food writer Laura Robin will share her picks for eating in the stands, on the site and in the neighbourhood.)

Greenberg's emphasis on what will and won't be ready by this Friday's Redblacks home-opener highlights the under-discussed reality that this major redevelopment isn't so much a unified project as four distinct ones:

The $129-million rebuilt and re-imagined football (and soccer) stadium;

The $37-million urban park on the west bank of the Rideau Canal;

A 360,000-square-foot retail complex;

A residential development that includes two condos towers and mostly sold-out town homes on Holmwood Avenue.

And the four Lansdownes are not all created equal.

More work to do to ensure Lansdowne is ready for thousands of fans

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Alison Sandor, CFRA News

There's still work to be done ahead of July 18th to ensure the first home game of the Ottawa Redblacks goes smoothly.

That's the message from the Lansdowne Transportation Monitoring and Operations Committee following Wednesday's open house at the stadium for ticket holders.

Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko told CFRA even though they've been promoting bus service and cycling to Lansdowne, not everyone was getting the message during the official opening Wednesday.

"We've been trying to get the message out for weeks, if not months now," he said. "If you don't already have a VIP box-holding parking pass underground, there is no parking at the site. You still had people coming in saying 'where do I park?' We know we've got to keep spreading that message."

He did say, however, there were a fair number of people who did test out alternate means of transportation to the site.

"The percentage of people was 35 to 40 per cent of attendees came using some form of OC Transpo, STO from Gatineau, shuttles, park and rides," he said. "If that percentage holds true for the 24,000 event on July 18th, that's great. That is the target."

He said by-law officers will strictly be enforcing parking on side streets during events at TD Place.

Crews will also put out better signage to indicate where people should be locking up their bicycles and will complete the sidewalk in front of Lansdowne before next Friday, in the hopes that fewer pedestrians will be jay-walking across the street from the Bank Street Bridge.

Little Italy intensification plans move forward

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Tom Pechloff, Ottawa Business News

Despite impassioned pleas from Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes and Mayor Jim Watson, city council voted Wednesday to allow a nine-storey tower as part of a development between 93 and 105 Norman St. in Little Italy.

The site of the proposed Taggart condominium development on Norman Street in Little Italy.

Ms. Holmes, who wanted the height restricted to four storeys, pointed out a number of changes made since the original strategic direction report was first tabled.

"So there is no reason for not changing the height on Norman," she told council. "Every other street that dead ends from Carling to Preston is four storeys."

Mr. Watson said he thinks a taller building will cause traffic headaches in the area, despite reports to the contrary from city staff.

He also took exception to a nine-storey building surrounded by four storey low-rises.

"Think about this in your own ward for a minute," the mayor asked council. He said he often walks through neighbourhoods and wonders "who in their right mind approved these massive towers in the middle of this neighbourhood?"

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans and Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Peter Clark also expressed traffic concerns with the Tamarack Developments proposal.

Tamarack had originally proposed an 18-storey tower, but that plan met resistance from both the community and city staff.

Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume, who also chairs the planning committee, said the development represents the best council can do in a "very difficult and conflicted situation."

It was a double-loss for Ms. Holmes. A motion to limit a possible development on Young Street backing on to George Street West to six storeys was also defeated.

The vote came after Capital Coun. David Chernushenko told council it is possible to intensify communities without massive towers.

"We call it 'Little Italy'. If we are not very careful with the direction we are adopting right now, we'll have to call it the 'former Little Italy,' " he said.

Carling Building to be demolished

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