Minto reveals plans for Lansdowne office building

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — The office building Minto Properties plans to build on Bank Street as part of the Lansdowne Park redevelopment will be the glassiest thing in the Glebe.

The city's temporary design-review panel for Lansdowne and the permanent panel of architects and designers who examine all big downtown construction projects have signed off on the plans, Minto chief executive Roger Greenberg said.

Greenberg is both the head of Minto and the lead partner in the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. OSEG is working with the city on the major Lansdowne redevelopment plans — due for a final city council vote Oct. 10 — but the city sold the development rights for particular buildings separately. Minto was the sole bidder for the office building and is paying the city $3.5 million for the rights, plus a bonus after 10 years if it turns out to be especially profitable.

The building is to be seven storeys in all, though the first couple of floors are for retail stores and the topmost level is just a small utility room.

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Transportation still key concern in Lansdowne redevelopment

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Metrics and forecasts can only go so far when preparing for the transportation crunch that will likely come with the new Lansdowne Park.

"When it opens you will see the real situation," council's transportation chairwoman Marianne Wilkinson said Thursday.

"You have to develop the best system based on the numbers you can expect to come."

She said the city will need to be nimble to adjust to unforeseen traffic issues.

One of the issues a special Lansdowne transportation advisory committee discussed Thursday was the local cycling network.

Wilkinson, the councillor for Kanata North ward, said there needs to be safe crossing for cyclists, especially on Queen Elizabeth Driveway. Even if it means painting the lines on the road, Wilkinson would like to see work begin next year before Lansdowne partially opens in summer 2014.

She was frank about a proposed $17.5-million pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Rideau Canal: There's no money in the budget right now.

Capital Coun David Chernushenko, who chairs the Lansdowne transportation group, doesn't have a lot of confidence that a traffic plan will sort out potential problems.

"They haven't been solved yet. We haven't come up with any magic answers," Chernushenko said this week. "Some of our solutions are just optimism at the moment."

Naming rights for Lansdowne Park hits $50M

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Council hopes to rake in big bucks with naming rights — good luck!

By Susan Sherring, Ottawa Sun

There’s just something incredibly disconcerting when the numbers for a proposed project don’t quite add up — and then money appears as if almost from thin air.

Such is the case in some of the numbers for Lansdowne Park.

Originally, it was estimated about $15 million could be garnered through naming rights, a new name for Frank Clair Stadium.

Now, that number has miraculously ballooned to $50 million.

Of course, a study had to be commissioned and a third-party consultant involved.

Is this proof spending money makes money? And is it true if you hire enough consultants, you'll hear what you want to hear?

Both Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Kent Kirkpatrick attempted to downplay the jump in the numbers.

"It sounds like a big number, it is a big number, important to remember over 30 years," Kirkpatrick said.

Doubts build, but council likely to approve Lansdowne redevelopment

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By David Reevely, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Ottawa's city councillors are looking forward to asking some questions about the Lansdowne Park redevelopment plans in very stern voices, but neither a vague report on the expected retail tenants there nor worse financial projections seem likely to derail the project.

Of the councillors approached by the Citizen, only Diane Deans, who voted against the Lansdowne redevelopment in the early going but switched to become a reluctant supporter as it gained momentum, signalled she might bring the tally of No votes to three out of 24 members of city council.

"I'm really not comfortable. All the way along we've been asking about cost overruns and who pays for them and we've been given assurances all along that we won't have these kind of cost overruns and now it's quite clear that we will," she said.

According to the latest financial report on the city's joint venture with a group of developers and sports businessmen, the city's up-front costs have increased $12 million, to about $218 million in all.

"The whole thing was portrayed as a new destination with a new kind of shopping experience and that doesn't seem to have materialized, either," Deans added. In the same package of reports the city released late Tuesday, an account of the businesses that have signed leases revealed that the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has nailed down nobody besides the long-announced Whole Foods grocery store and an Empire Theatres cinema. They account for 90,000 square feet of the expected 360,000 square feet of retail space at Lansdowne, though OSEG says another 174,000 square feet are very nearly spoken for by tenants who just haven't quite reached the point of signing leases.

The project comes up for final votes by city council's finance committee on Oct. 2 and full city council Oct. 10. Deans described her vote as "in doubt at the moment." She'd join Capital Coun. David Chernushenko and Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, who've voted against the project every time they've had a chance, if she opposes it.

City should know retailers before OKing Lansdowne deal: Councillor

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By Alex Boutilier, Metro News

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko is disappointed Ottawa city council will not have an opportunity to see what retailers are being considered for the Lansdowne Park redevelopment before they are asked to approve the $400 million project.

After a council meeting Wednesday morning, Chernushenko said council should not be forced to blindly trust Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to select appropriate retail tenants.

"Why is it down to me, the opponent, to be saying this isn't good enough. I would think the proponents should be asking the same question," Chernushenko told reporters.

"We need those names. We can't just say 'trust us, sign here.' This is the last chance. This is where we sign the cheque. And it can't be a blank one."

But Mayor Jim Watson said it's not the names of individual retailers, but the mix, that's important.

"What council asked for was we make sure there's a good retail mix and there are unique opportunities and that we fulfill that requirement," Watson said. "The actual names of the stores and the shops and the restaurants will come with time."

Watson added OSEG has a legal requirement to adhere to the mix of retail suggested by council.

"It's a legal agreement (OSEG has) to live up to, and unless they ask us for a change in that agreement we expect that they'll live up to that agreement," he said.

Doubts growing about Lansdowne plan

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

There's a hunger to find out more about who's setting up shop at Lansdowne Park and some councillors are casting doubt on the redevelopment.

The city says 73% of the retail space is either under a signed lease or a final negotiation.

The names of most of the companies are secret.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, who represents the Glebe, wants to know who the retail tenants will be. He said he will vote against the project when it comes to council Oct. 10.

The finance and economic development committee will hear public delegations on the redevelopment next Tuesday.

"I can't buy it anymore when we're just told 'trust us, we're in negotiations' because negotiations sometimes fail," Chernushenko said Wednesday.

"We cannot and should not be voting on this if we don't know otherwise it's a leap of faith and all along there have been leaps of faith. This is the final moment when there shouldn't be a leap of faith."

Mayor Jim Watson is calling for patience.

"The actual names of the stores and the shops and the reassurance will come with time but first and foremost we have to adopt the agreement," Watson said.

Lansdowne redevelopment over budget

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CTV News

One of the biggest projects in Ottawa's history is coming in over budget.

The Lansdowne Park redevelopment is expected to cost about $12 million more than first projected.

The number came out of highly-anticipated report updating the redevelopment costs and plans.

The stadium will be $3.3 million more than first thought, a parking garage will cost $5.6 more, and $3.1 million more will go to site servicing.

Some Ottawa residents say they are eager for construction to get underway.

"What was there before was terrible... although it's not the best thing ever, they're doing something and they're doing something quickly and I appreciate it," said Ottawa resident Jamie Nowiski.

Others say they are worried about how the space will be used.

"I'm concerned about the density of it with all of the condominiums and I'm also concerned about the impact that the businesses will have on the rest of Bank St.," said Ottawa resident Katrin Nagelschmitz.

Ian Lee and the Friends of Lansdowne group took the city to court over the redevelopment plans. They lost their case.

Still, Lee says some things in the report are positive.

"They're not proceeding with the Municipal Services Corporation which would have taken Lansdowne Park outside of the scrutiny of city council, so that was a pleasant surprise," Lee said.

The report was sparing on details of which retailers will set up shop at the new Lansdown Park. Whole Foods and Empire Theatres are coming to the site.

Lee says a full list of retailers should have been announced.

"People could say 'well that's just a detail that will come later' but the entire Lansdowne proposal was sold on the basis that it's going to be unique and that all of the tenants coming in are going to be really unique," Lee said.

The stadium is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014, just in time for the FIFA Women's World Cup and the return of a CFL team.

The entire redevelopment project is expected to be finished by 2015.

The report will be discussed at a Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting next week. Councillors will vote on the report Oct. 10.

With files from CTV's Katie Griffin.

Lansdowne $12M over budget

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

The Lansdowne Park redevelopment is $12-million over budget because of legal delays and results of a construction tender, the city says.

New reports on the project published late Tuesday afternoon suggest an 18-month delay in the construction start date alone cost $8.2 million in inflationary increases.

Now, the city's total capital responsibility for the stadium, urban park, residential and office components, the new trade show facility at the airport and social housing policy is projected to be $218.7 million.

Debt will pay for more than 70% of the bill.

The cost increases are pinned to the stadium ($3.3 million extra), parking garage ($5.6 million) and servicing for the office, residential and public areas ( $3.1 million).

The urban park, which was subject to a design competition, is on budget and on schedule.

Staff have also negotiated a plan to insulate taxpayers against cost overruns to the stadium, arena and parking garage. The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group will pick up the extra costs, but it will be considered additional equity. Payments to OSEG under the revenue-sharing scheme would be accelerated, one report says.

The construction timelines have not changed, the city says. Stadium events can begin in summer 2014.

On the sports side, OSEG will be required to operate a CFL team for at least eight years, three more than originally negotiated with the city. In return, OSEG will receive flexibility from the city to sell the football team or the Ottawa 67s hockey club.

In terms of naming rights, the city will be able to retain the rights for the urban park facilities, while OSEG gets control over the name of the stadium and retail components.

The city is happy with how OSEG's retail leasing is coming along.

According to a new report dated Aug. 30, 73% of the retail space is leased or in final negotiations with "strong tenants." The city's retail consultant calls it a "good position to be in" at this point in the game.

There are no retail names offered, but Whole Foods, LCBO and Empire Cinemas are already slotted.

In other new developments on the Lansdowne file, staff are recommending against striking a municipal services corporation to oversee the property when construction is done.

At Frank Clair Stadium, the scoreboard will be moved to the west side of the field and there are "minor" changes to the striking wooden veil behind the south-side stands.

If council gives the final sign off, the official legal close of the agreement will happen around Oct. 15.

The finance and economic development committee will first vet the agreements next Tuesday.

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Twitter: @JonathanWilling

Lansdowne deal ready to go, city officials say

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — The Lansdowne plans have lived up to their promises and the city should sign a deal to redevelop the rundown city property in the Glebe, the city's staff say.

City council has voted several times since 2009 to firm up aspects of the $400-million joint venture with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, but now a truly final vote to sign an agreement with that group of property developers and sports businessmen is due Oct. 10.

The recommendation comes without a set of details many skeptics of the project consider vital: the names of the retailers that OSEG has signed to leases for the new commercial buildings the deal would see built along the north and west edges of Lansdowne Park. A report from retail consultants J.C. Williams Group says the mix of merchants fits the criteria set by city council in an earlier vote and acceptable to the existing Glebe merchants' association — restaurants and food-sellers, clothing stores and electronics vendors, anchored by previously announced locations of the Whole Foods grocery chain, an LCBO outlet and a movie theatre — but doesn't precisely identify the tenants.

"This is our last shot before it goes ahead," said an irate Capital Coun. David Chernushenko. "I'm disappointed that it looks like we aren't going to have that information."

Still, he said, "I don't think it'll be enough to keep my colleagues from voting 'Yeah! Let's do it!'"

The redevelopment includes a renovation to Frank Clair Stadium so it can again host major-league football and minor-league soccer teams, residential and office space to go with the retail, and a new urban park in Lansdowne's southeast quadrant, near the historic Aberdeen Pavilion. The city is fronting most of the money but expects to recoup it over decades as it shares in the profits from OSEG's many ventures on the site.

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.