Lansdowne theatre tenant exiting movie industry

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Mark Brownlee, Ottawa Business Journal

The soon-to-be-redeveloped Lansdowne Park now has another question mark as a future tenant that was slated to open a theatre at the site's vast new retail space announced Thursday it's moving away from the movie business.

Empire Company Ltd. said it plans to sell its location in Kanata, as well as other locations in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, to Cineplex Inc.

The deal does not include the Empire location at the World Exchange Plaza or the planned location at Lansdowne Park, said Pat Marshall, vice-president of Cineplex, in an interview.

The firm doesn't have any plans to open a cinema at either location, she added.

A spokesperson for Empire could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which is handling the Lansdowne project, is still unsure of what Empire's decision means to the future of the project.

"We are only aware of what's been reported in the media and are trying to understand the implications for the Empire Theatre planned at Lansdowne," said Roger Greenberg, a partner on the project, in a statement. "When we do find out, we'll be happy to share further."

The theatre is already under construction, the statement said. It did not say whether there was a lease agreement in place.

Empire's departure would leave another hole to fill at the Lansdowne site. The company responsible for the project's retail components, Trinity Developments, has issued few details about its plans for a large part of the close to 400,000 square feet of retail space.

It listed several new tenants – including TD Canada Trust, Rexall and Jack Astor's – in February but then pulled them down a short time later.

Empire was still listed as a future tenant at Lansdowne on Trinity's website as of Thursday afternoon. Messages left with the company were not immediately returned.

The location at Lansdowne, which was scheduled to open in 2014, was supposed to replace a theatre at the Rideau Centre that closed this spring.

The Kanata location of Empire Theatres is one of 26 movie theatres across the country Cineplex Inc. plans to acquire., according to Thursday's announcement.

Lansdowne anchor tenant Empire Theatres bails out of cinema industry

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — The owner of the movie theatre being built at Lansdowne Park is getting out of the cinema business, leaving the future of the theatre at the controversial redevelopment site unclear.

Empire Co., which owns Empire Theatres and the Sobeys supermarket chain, is selling its movie houses to focus on the grocery business, the company announced Thursday morning.

The existing theatres are being divided between Cineplex Inc. and Landmark Cinemas. Cineplex is paying $200 million cash for Empire's holdings in Atlantic Canada and Calgary-based Landmark is part of a more complicated buyout of Empire's cinemas in the West. They're splitting Empire's holdings in Ontario, with Cineplex picking up its theatre in Kanata and one in Whitby and Landmark getting the rest, including one in Orléans.

None of the companies' news releases Thursday specifically said anything about Empire's movie theatres at Ottawa's Exchange Centre or what will happen to the one under construction at Lansdowne.

"We haven't yet had conversation with the developer regarding its final state," said Empire spokesman Andrew Walker from Mississauga. Empire has a lease with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the consortium of developers redeveloping Lansdowne in partnership with the City of Ottawa, to operate a theatre there and Walker said he expects Empire will honour it.

There's supposed to be a cinema at Lansdowne and he expects there will be one, in other words. "It was a commitment that was made and I would expect it to continue in that state," Walker said.

City manager given authority to execute Lansdowne deals

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By Alex Boutilier, Metro

Ottawa's finance committee signed off on expanding the city manager's authority to execute parts of the Lansdowne Park redevelopment project with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group Tuesday.

If approved by council, the move would grant City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick the authority to give the city's consent for requests from OSEG within the parametres of the legal and financial agreements approved by council last year.

Kirkpatrick said the move was necessary, given the tight timelines for the project.

The first project on Kirkpatrick's plate will be the construction of retail and office buildings. Minto, whose CEO sits on OSEG's board, has been recommended for the project.

Lansdowne urban park price tag estimated at $20m-$25m

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By Alex Boutilier, Metro

The City of Ottawa is expecting to pay $20 million to $25 million for an urban park at Lansdowne, according to tender documents.

That estimate includes all components of the park, including two major public art installations, a refrigerated skating rink, a new skateboard park, and a "great lawn" on the park's southeast corner.

Jeff Byrne, the head of the city's supply branch, said the price tag is an estimate only. The contract will be awarded to the lowest responsive bid.

The city announced four companies had prequalified to bid on the multi-million dollar contract last week. The city went the pre-qualification route, Byrne said, due to the size, complexity and timelines associated with the project.

"The Lansdowne redevelopment includes multiple project components, underway concurrently and with extremely tight timelines and therefore this pre-qualification process was deemed appropriate," Byrne wrote in an email.

The successful contractor will have incentives to meet that aggressive timeline. If all work on the northeastern section of the park is completed by May 30, 2014, the contractor gets a $60,000 bonus. If work on the southern section is completed by October 31 later that year, the contractor is eligible for an additional $40,000.

If deadlines are missed the contractor could be slapped with up to $100,000 in "disincentives" fees, depending on how long the delay lasts.

The tender documents are in the hands of the contractors, but will not be made public until June 10. Final completion of the contract is set for May 2015.

Prequalified bidders for the Lansdowne urban park:

  • Carillion Canada Inc. — Concord, Ontario
  • D&G Landscaping — Greely, Ontario
  • Doran Contractors — Ottawa, Ontario
  • Ottawa Greenbelt Construction Co. Ltd. — Ottawa, Ontario