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.

Lansdowne cost overruns escape easy explanation

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By Susan Sherring, Ottawa Sun

Taxpayers will be forking out more dough for Lansdowne Park, and getting a bit less for their money.

The much-anticipated update report on Lansdowne Park came out late in the day Tuesday, revealing the budget is up by $12 million, and plans for the makeover scaled down.

The final cost is now set at $218.7 million.

Not surprisingly, city staffers are blaming much of the $12-million increase on Friends of Lansdowne Inc., which stalled the deal with their legal wrangling.

There's no doubt Friends aren't really friends of the city.

The legal manoeuvring wasn't their finest moment, and it hurt the project.

The constant appeals dragged on, even when it was clear they didn't have a hope, or a legal leg to stand on.

The real loser was the reputation of the Friends of Lansdowne themselves.

Their loss cost taxpayers, though it's difficult to swallow the staff report in its entirety.

Final Lansdowne recommendation due Tuesday

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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.

Glebe residents worried about Lansdowne's 'toxic' berm

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Soil containing toxic leftovers from boilers and refrigeration units
does 'not pose hazard to human health,' says City

By Andrew Duffy, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Some Glebe residents want the province to impose better safeguards on the construction of a large earthen berm at Lansdowne Park.

The 10-metre high berm, which is to be built east of Frank Clair Stadium, will include tonnes of contaminated soil excavated from the construction site.

The City of Ottawa could have trucked all of the soil to a landfill, but instead chose to reuse most of the excavated material, which contains petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

The chemicals are toxic leftovers from boilers and refrigeration units that once operated on the 15-hectare site.

Part of the site was also contaminated by garbage — up to five metres deep in places — which was used to fill in an old inlet from the Rideau Canal.

The landfill included materials such as wood, metal, ashes, cinder, coal, bricks and decayed organic material.