Glebe Councillor expects to be disappointed with lists of shops in redevelopment
By David Reevely, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — The stores and restaurants bound for Lansdowne Park are likely to be disappointing, said the councillor for the Glebe on the eve of the release of the final set of city reports on the redevelopment plans.
"There's no question that filling those slots will be possible, but will it be Shoppers Drug Mart and Sport Chek ... or things that are unique to Ottawa, or places that the world has never known?" Councillor David Chernushenko asked.
He'd have liked to know for sure; as the councillor for the area, Chernushenko gets an early look at such reports before they go public. These are due in advance of a city council finance committee meeting next Tuesday. But as is routine when it comes to Lansdowne, the reports have been late. "They were expecting to get me them Thursday or Friday, and I sort of smiled wryly because that never happens," Chernushenko said Monday, still without the documents.
They're supposed to include a final recommendation from the city bureaucracy on whether to go ahead with a roughly $400-million plan to renovate Frank Clair Stadium, build shops and restaurants on the north and west edges of the city-owned property, and turn the southeast quadrant into a major urban park. The deal, a partnership with a handful of property developers and sports businessmen called the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, was sold to city council in 2009 as a chance to build a grand new public space in the city, bring back CFL football in the renovated stadium and give life to the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne's heart.
Crucially, it's supposed to pay for itself over time, with the city's share of the profits from OSEG's new residential and commercial buildings eventually covering the city's up-front costs of more than $200 million. The reports are to include an updated financial forecast; those numbers have stayed fairly constant in previous updates and Chernushenko doesn't expect they'll change significantly this time. Certainly not enough to scuttle the plans.