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.