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