Ottawa landmark Lansdowne Park to be renamed

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TD Bank set to take over naming rights at facility

 

Ottawa’s new sports and entertainment complex is about to take on a new name.

Lansdowne Park is expected to be renamed TD Place when it reopens in 2014, the Citizen has learned, after the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group reached an agreement on naming rights for the entire facility with the TD Bank Group.

The agreement will pay OSEG an annual fee — said to be in seven figures — which will also allow for a full service TD banking centre at Lansdowne.

The refurbished stadium/arena combination on the grounds will be home to the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Redblacks, the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s and the North American Soccer League franchise Ottawa Fury FC.

The Redblacks are set to return Ottawa to the CFL for the 2014 season, with their first home game coming in late July or early August. The Fury will open its 2014 spring schedule at Carleton University while the construction project is completed, then switch over in the summer.

The 67’s, meanwhile, will return to a renovated Civic Centre for the 2014-15 season after two years at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

The deal re-establishes a major Canadian bank as the marquee sponsor of a sports complex in the capital after a one-year hiatus. Last summer the Ottawa Senators opted out of their contract with Scotiabank, which held the naming rights at CTC prior to this season.

The new Lansdowne agreement also allows the Bank of Montreal to establish a smaller banking centre on the grounds.

The rebuilding of the complex has been in the works since 2008, when former 67’s owner and now president of sports for OSEG Jeff Hunt made public his wish to return pro football to the city. Obtaining a CFL franchise was contingent on the stadium undergoing massive upgrades.

That fall, the OSEG consortium met with the city to hash out a plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park, rebuild the stadium and add commercial, retail and residential space.

City council approved a plan in 2010 and, after a lengthy legal battle with opponents of the redevelopment, the project finally went ahead in 2012.

A formal announcement of the naming rights deal could come as early as this week.

OSEG officials declined to comment.

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Lansdowne is the big 2014 project but taxpayers will keep their eyes on others

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,Ottawa Sun

Lansdowne Park's partial opening in 2014 barring any last minute delays, which seem unlikely so far is bound to be a contender for the top local story when the year-in-reviews hit the press a year from now.

It won't be until 2015 that the entire $300-million redevelopment is done, but the showcase element a redesigned Frank Clair Stadium with its signature wooden veil will open to the public when the Ottawa RedBlacks take the field next spring. While the mixed-use components of the project will open as the year progresses, the urban park is scheduled to be ready the following summer.

There are still several unanswered questions about how the new Lansdowne will operate. While the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and city have a plan to park cars off-site and bus football fans to Lansdowne, they won't know how well it works until after few games or other major events.

The full slate of retail offerings at Lansdowne hasn't been confirmed, although many stores and restaurants have been officially announced. Council has directed that the retail experience at Lansdowne be unique and not packed with big box store offerings.

Lansdowne's historic comeback will be time for celebration, but council's work will continue, even if the Oct. 27, 2014 municipal election will force politicians to put extra focus on keeping their jobs through 2018.

Council will need to stay on top of the traffic crunch caused by continued LRT construction and the widening of Hwy. 417.

Preparing for 2015, the year the Transitway will close for LRT conversion, will be even more critical as more buses hit the city streets.

Council will hopefully cut ribbons on two major, and much-anticipated, bridge projects.

The $48-million Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge over the Rideau River has been plagued by contracting problems and delays. The Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge, the budget for which has ballooned from $6.9 million to id="mce_marker"1.4 million is also scheduled to be built by the end of the year.

The major policy piece up for approval will be the result of a development charge bylaw review. During a debate of the transportation master plan, some councillors were hoping changes to the bylaw might mean more revenue to help pay for infrastructure improvements in their wards.

Council members have a little break at the beginning of January before the official business of City Hall resumes with a planning committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 14.

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Twitter: @JonathanWilling

Corroded steel in Civic Centre boosts Lansdowne costs $17M

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This archival photo shows the Ottawa Civic Centre under construction in March 1967. Steel beams in the structure are now badly corroded and have had to be replaced at a cost of $17 million. Photograph by: File photo , United Press International

OTTAWA — Key steel supports in the Civic Centre at Lansdowne Park are in much worse shape than anybody realized and the city and the private consortium renovating Lansdowne are arguing over whose problem it is to pay the $17-million bill.

Wayne Newell, the city’s general manager of infrastructure, told councillors of the problem in a long memo just before Christmas.

Previous inspections had found minor deterioration in steel beams over the Civic Centre’s ice pad (under Frank Clair Stadium’s north-side stands) but concluded the building as a whole was structurally sound. Then, when contractors for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group took out insulation and other coverings as part of their wholesale redevelopment of the property, they got a nasty surprise.

“The completed investigation identified extensive repairs required due to corrosion of the structural steel elements of the facility, which would impact the structure’s capability of supporting its designed loading capacity,” Newell wrote. The more parts they looked at, the more alarmed they got.

“The largest portion of work involved replacing the arena steel decking; essentially this is the roof structure over the arena,” he wrote.

“In order to safely access this area, scaffolding had to be installed from the arena floor up to the underside of the roof. Working from the top side, the concrete floor was removed, followed by the existing steel deck. Repairs to the support beams were completed and new steel joists were installed along the entire area under the upper concourse.”

The cost for this and fixing a main beam and other parts of the structure add up to $17 million, according to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group of private developers and sports businessmen.

The work is mostly done — OSEG sped ahead with it to keep the delicate construction schedule on track for the Canadian Football League’s coming summer season — but OSEG and the city don’t agree on whether this is just an expense that arose in the normal course of the Lansdowne work (in which case it’s OSEG’s problem) or a major new problem that’s not part of the work OSEG agreed to do as part of its partnership with the city (in which case it’s the city government’s problem).

The complex agreement between the parties includes a way of arbitrating disputes like this if they can’t be resolved amicably and “OSEG has notified the City that it is considering invoking the dispute resolution procedures of the Project Agreement,” Newell wrote.

Even if OSEG ends up having to pay, the $17-million would be treated as an additional investment in the $400-million project, giving the consortium a bigger share of the proceeds that are eventually supposed to come from all the retail, residential and commercial development on the former fairground off Bank Street at the Rideau Canal.

Despite the surprises in the Civic Centre, Newell’s memo said the Lansdowne project as a whole is on track, with several big buildings due to be turned over to contractors fitting them up for their retail tenants as soon as February and major work about to begin on the “urban park” that’s to occupy the southeastern quadrant of the site.

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Steel corrosion causes $17M in unexpected costs at Civic Centre

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By , Ottawa Sun

Heavily corroded steel uncovered in the Civic Centre is estimated to cost id="mce_marker"7 million to fix and city taxpayers could be on the hook.

Roger Greenberg, a partner with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said the company will settle the bill for now but who ultimately pays for the work will be the subject of negotiations with the city in the new year.

OSEG and the city didn't anticipate that the condition of the steel beams would be so poor.

"This did come as a surprise," Greenberg said in an interview Monday.

"This is something we had not contemplated. If we had, we would have provided for it in our budget when we made the deal with the city and estimated what the repairs were going to be."

Greenberg said workers learned about the poor condition of the steel beams during the arena renovation, part of the larger Lansdowne Park redevelopment.

Greenberg noted the project contract allows for talks with the city to determine if the repairs are "part of the scope of work that we agreed to do."

The $17 million is "above and beyond" what was anticipated in the contingency funds, he said.

The city's maximum cost for the stadium and related parking is set at $135.8 million. In that, there's a project contingency of $10 million.

If the city and OSEG can't agree on who pays the overrun, the contract calls for an arbitrator to decide.

But, "we're putting the cart before the horse at this stage," Greenberg said.

Marco Manconi, the city's manager of design and construction at Lansdowne, suggested it's OSEG's responsibility to pay for the extra costs.

"It is the city's view that, with regard to the funding of these unexpected costs, the provisions of the Lansdowne redevelopment plan project agreement related to the city's guaranteed maximum price require OSEG to pay for the costs of the work that are in excess of the project contingency that is contained within the guaranteed maximum price," Manconi said in an e-mail to the Sun.

If OSEG pays for the work, the company's equity in the redevelopment would increase.

The Civic Centre was built in 1967. Regular inspections through 2010 found the structure to be in good condition.

However, earlier this year OSEG commissioned a comprehensive investigation that involved removing material, such as insulation, that was covering structural steel. That's when workers discovered the extent of the corrosion.

Maintaining the construction schedule is paramount, which is why OSEG went ahead with necessary repairs after consulting the city, Greenberg said.

Greenberg doesn't anticipate any other big surprises during the redevelopment.

"I'm hopeful now that we pretty well got everything that should be expected," he said. "We hope."

Twitter: @JonathanWilling

Project update

  • Concrete on south side stands nearing completion. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing equipment being installed. Framing of wooden veil in progress.
  • Most of the new seats have been installed on north side stands.
  • Underground parking garage structure complete. Paving, line painting are in progress. Contractor parking relocated to the garage.
  • Construction of all retail, office and residential buildings has started.
  • Great Porch and shuttle loop in the urban park are finished. Work started on Aberdeen Square.

Other updates

  • North side stands substantial completion (March 2014): On track
  • South side stands substantial completion (June 2014): On track
  • Mixed-use building envelopes complete (July 2014): On track
  • Urban park substantial completion (October 2014): On track
  • Parking garage excavation and site servicing: Complete
  • Parking garage and foundation for Horticulture Building: Complete
  • Horticulture Building renovation work: On track
  • Parking garage substantial completion: 90%
  • Majority of site servicing: 90%
  • Project closeout (June 2015): On track

Source: City of Ottawa

Lansdowne traffic remains a worry

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It's not managing the special events — it's the day-to-day that's worrisome

By Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

Depending on your viewpoint, there's lots to love or loathe about the massive Lansdowne Park redevelopment.

If you're a football fan, you're likely delighted by the seemingly daily RedBlacks announcements as they ramp up toward their first game in early summer. The skeptical wonder if the sport will be successful in Ottawa the third time around.

If you're something of a shopaholic, maybe you can't wait for the 400,000 square feet of retail space expected to be opened by this time next year (with about half the shops and restaurants opening their doors six months from now, and the rest over the second half of 2014). But if you were taken with the early talk about how a reimagined Lansdowne was to become a "unique urban village," you'll be sorely disappointed by the numerous chains that have committed to setting up shop there, including the LCBO, Rexall, a national bank, and possibly — according to a report by the Citizen's David Reevely — a Cineplex theatre complex (although probably a fancy one that serves grown-up drinks).

But there's one element in the Lansdowne revamp formula that everyone can agree on: traffic. Or, more precisely, that there's a concrete plan to avoid (or at least alleviate) the inevitable gridlock that will ensue from the thousands of expected new visitors to the site.

So far, it's really not clear what that plan is.

Sure, there's a concept of how to handle the crowds on game day, although there still are many details to be worked out.

For example, here's a new problem: although only club seat and suite clients will be allowed to park in the garage on game day, about 600 spots will be open to the public. After all, the retailers spending top dollar to locate at Lansdowne don't all want to rely only on game-goers for their business.

Figuring out how to stop those spaces from being used by football attendees is just one more thing on the to-do list before the Redblacks have their home opener next June or July.

But the truth is, it's not the special events that have everyone worried. Yes, it'll be a headache to figure out how to get 24,000 people to and from a sold-out Frank Clair Stadium, but it'll get figured out. Eventually.

The real challenge is how Bank Street and the surrounding Glebe area can absorb 5,000 or 10,000 people a day visiting Lansdowne.

"There's a real misperception," said Coun. David Chernushenko, who's work in Capital ward has been largely taken up with issues relating to the Lansdowne development.

"People generally don't have a big issue with special events, unless they become so numerous that they're every second day," he said, pointing out that a CFL team has fewer than a dozen home games a season. "People realize that you go into special events mode."

But what about the rest of the time?

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Redblacks and partnered with the city to redevelop Lansdowne, is looking to attract thousands of visitors to the huge shopping and entertainment complex every day. Some will take transit, but as Lansdowne isn't on a major route, it's likely many will drive.

So the real question is, how will these people come and go from this traditional neighbourhood?

The underground garage will have about 1,300 underground parking spaces, with 280 reserved for the homeowners living in the two condo towers and town houses on the Lansdowne site, and another 40 short-term street-level spots.

The question is how these folks will get in and out without creating huge backlogs on either Bank Street or Queen Elizabeth Drive, where the two public parking access points are located.

As Mayor Jim Watson said in an interview, "I go to the Glebe today on a Saturday, and it's chock-a-block full."

Exactly.

If the area is already congested, how will it absorb all the thousands of new shoppers?

That's what local residents want to know. If a recent public meeting on the Lansdowne transportation plan is anything to go by, the community is so incensed by what it sees as the lack of urgency in coming up with a plan for the "day-to-day," that one man put forth the extreme (although legal) suggestion that residents start parking by the curb instead of their driveways to keep visitors from clogging up side streets.

After feedback from 1,000 residents, the Glebe Community Association came up with 21 "priority" recommendations to ease congestion, including increasing the frequency of east-west bus routes to alleviate the transit traffic on Bank Street to improving residential parking enforcement in the Glebe.

This month, the city rejected these proposals, along with 11 others. Another half-dozen suggestions are under consideration. Only two were accepted: better signage to direct drivers to use the Queen Elizabeth Driveway entrance, and new rules to forbid stopping on certain streets right around Lansdowne.

The fact is, it's not a surprise that the city is resisting taking a few measures ahead of time.

Sure, there are some steps that should be taken this instance. It seems foolish for the city not to prioritize building the Clegg Street/Fifth Avenue bridge that would connect Old Ottawa East across the canal to the Lansdowne site. The bridge delay — it's currently on the books for 2020 — is particularly head-scratching when you consider the many millions taxpayers are shelling out for the stadium, the Horticulture Building reno and the urban park. Why wouldn't the city want to create as many access points to these public sites as possible?

But before the city re-builds intersections or installs speed bumps, it's probably prudent to wait to see how the traffic issue unfolds. It's not always obvious ahead of time where the bottlenecks will occur.

On the other hand, the city must be prepared to adjust quickly to problems as they arise.

And "quickly" is the key word here.

OSEG's chief executive Bernie Ashe said all Lansdowne partners have "a huge commitment to monitoring. And we're going to be completely open about the kinds of complaints we get."

This might sound like so much good public-relations talk from some executives, but coming from Ashe, it's likely sincere for one simple reason: OSEG needs the traffic flow to work. In this cause, the company and the community are united.

Because if Lansdowne earns an early reputation for being a pain to get to, if Bank Street is thought to be a permanently congested nightmare, it'll be a disaster for OSEG and for Glebe shop owners alike.

And no matter what other opinions you hold about Lansdowne, there's no one in this city who wants that.

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© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Cineplex in talks to run Lansdowne cinema: OSEG

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — The Cineplex movie-theatre chain is in exclusive discussions with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to run the orphaned cinema at Lansdowne Park.

The future of the theatre has been in question since the summer, when Empire Theatres — the chain that had signed a lease to operate a luxury cinema at the former fairground in the Glebe — abruptly bailed out of the movie business. It sold nearly all its theatres, dividing them between Cineplex and Calgary-based Landmark Theatres.

But Empire's two downtown locations, the functioning cinema at the World Exchange Plaza and the still-under-construction complex at Lansdowne, were left out of the deal. Ever since, OSEG has said optimistic things about fully expecting to find someone to run the cinema, presumably in concert with Empire, but hasn't landed anyone.

Wednesday morning, hoarding went up around Lansdowne Park inviting leasing inquiries from retailers and including what appeared to be a Cineplex logo among other previously announced tenants, such as the Joey restaurant chain, Whole Foods, and Sporting Life. By mid-day, the panels with the Cineplex logo had been taken down, leaving gaps.

An OSEG source confirmed that the posting of the logo was premature, but also that Cineplex is in talks to run the theatre and nobody else is.

OSEG, the partnership of land developers and sports businessmen who made a deal with the city to renovate Lansdowne, refurbish Frank Clair Stadium for pro football and build a retail and entertainment complex, has jumped the gun several times before, posting publicly the names of tenants it hadn't yet signed, then withdrawing them as soon as people noticed.

The Lansdowne cinema is supposed to be a "VIP" theatre, one with a liquor licence, top-of-the-line projectors and extra comfy seats, distinguishing it from Ottawa's other movie houses. Cineplex operates several of these across Canada.

Cineplex spokesman Mike Langdon said the company doesn't comment on rumours.

The future of the World Exchange cinema looks doubtful: talks failed last week between Landmark and the World Exchange's owners. After initially passing on acquiring it, Landmark signed a deal to manage the theatre for several months and had hoped to extend the lease, which expires at the end of December.

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© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Lansdowne Park advertises GoodLife, Milestones for redevelopment

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Hoarding outside the Lansdowne Park redevelopment advertises some more businesses coming to the retail, residential and sports complex.

GoodLife Fitness is advertised, along with the restaurant Milestones.

All three were included on a draft map of the site produced last year.

Although the companies are advertised in public, an Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group spokesman said Wednesday the company won't release an updated list of tenants until early January.

Other tenants already confirmed at Lansdowne include Whole Foods, Jack Astor's restaurant, LCBO, Joey restaurant, Sporting Life, Il Fornello restaurant, Local restaurant, TD Bank and Rexall. A cinema is also being built, but the operator is undetermined.

OSEG must follow to a retail mix endorsed by council.

Twitter@jonathanwilling

'Significant congestion' at Lansdowne might be a good thing

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Coun. David Chernushenko says some congestion will help encourage people not to drive

CBC News

People who live in the Glebe say the city isn't doing enough to prevent traffic congestion in their neighbourhood when Lansdowne Park opens next summer, but a city councillor says some "significant congestion" in the short term might actually be a good thing.

A public meeting with city staff and consultants was held at St. Giles Presbyterian Church Monday night, giving the city a chance to explain its plans for monitoring traffic when the redeveloped site opens in June.

The city called it their biggest-ever traffic monitoring plan. Analysts will watch how traffic actually flows compared to predictions and make changes based on that.

Consultants expect anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 people will come to Lansdowne for concerts, 13,000 to 15,000 for soccer games and 18,000 to 25,000 for CFL games — as many as 40,000 for a potential Grey Cup.

'Term we get over and over is, wait and see'

Staff will monitor which intersections people are using to turn where, how many people are crossing the Bank Street Bridge and where people are parking.

They will study two Ottawa 67's games, three soccer games and three football games.

But many residents said they want to know what will be done to reduce congestion.

"The term we get over and over is, wait and see. The city has planners, they did a lot of planning around special events at Lansdowne, but for the day to day, it is just wait and we'll adjust and fine tune then," said Brian Mitchell of the Glebe Community Association.

'We have not yet found a happy medium,' councillor says

Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko said short-term congestion can lead to positive and environmentally-friendly outcomes.

"There's an odd set of dilemmas here," he said. "Traffic congestion actually prompts people to not drive their car. So, if for the first few weeks we experience significant congestion, that may not necessarily be a bad thing."

But when asked what the take-away lesson from the evening was, Chernushenko said he agrees with residents who want more short-term action.

"There are a lot of people who are prepared to live with Lansdowne and even hoping it succeeds now, but the definition of success is it has to work as much for the neighbouring communities as for the visiting clients," he said.

"We have not yet found a happy medium. The solutions are still too much weighted towards the visiting client and not enough in favour of the affected residents."

Some of the proposed solutions include increasing O-Train service and having more east-west buses from Carling Avenue, more bike lanes and using the proposed Fifth/Clegg footbridge in a few years to make Main Street a better way to get to Lansdowne.

The group running Lansdowne said it will have a traffic co-ordinator in place by January.

Lansdowne: Presentation of the City's Monitoring Plan and report on the work of LTAC

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Monday, December 9, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
St. Giles Presbyterian Church, First Ave. & Bank St.

Over the past 18 months, community representatives, invited experts and City staff have been meeting to discuss the anticipated traffic and parking challenges that a redeveloped Lansdowne Park will bring. This Lansdowne Transportation Advisory Committee (LTAC) contributed to the development of a Monitoring Plan to identify specific problems, and made recommendations regarding other steps that might be taken to address these challenges.

This is an opportunity to learn about the City’s Monitoring Plan, other agreed changes, and issues still to be resolved. Besides the presentation of the Monitoring Plan by City staff, there will be an address by Councillor Chernushenko and an opportunity for remarks from the three community associations affected by Lansdowne (GCA, Old Ottawa East, Old Ottawa South) and by the Glebe BIA. 

If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit ottawa.ca/newlansdowne, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.