Ottawa Construction News staff writer
Ottawa city council has given the green light to a $419 million reinvigoration of Lansdowne Park near the city’s centre – though only after several days’ extensive debate and hearing more than 80 delegations, many opposed to the project.
The 16-9 vote in favour of Lansdowne 2.0 last Thursday (Nov. 9) calls for a new mid-size event centre, new north-side stadium stands, a two-storey retail space and two residential towers. The proposal also provides “needed funds for affordable housing in Ottawa,” a City of Ottawa statement says.
“I think it is a better project than it was last year,” Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe said. “I think it’s a better project than it was two days ago,” Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said shortly before the final vote. “I’m proud to support it as a great opportunity for the city.”
Lansdowne’s private-sector partner, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), has pushed for the redevelopment by suggesting that more big-ticket events will be drawn to the site by tearing down and replacing the “functionally obsolete” north side stadium stands and arena. The stadium is used for Ottawa 67’s junior hockey games, and the arena, among other functions, serves as the home field for the Ottawa Redblacks Canadian Football League team.
OSEG believes it will be able to attract more big-ticket events by tearing down and replacing the “functionally obsolete” north-side stadium stands and arena.
The city owns the stadium and arena. OSEG developed condo towers and retail/entertainment structures on the site in the development’s first phase.=
The planned new event centre will accommodate nearly 4,700 general admission seats, with higher capacities of 5,550 for hockey games and 6,500 for concerts. The new north stands will reduce current seating capacity from 14,000 to 11,000.
“The approved plan contemplates two residential towers with maximum heights of 40 storeys,” the city’s statement says. “Limiting redevelopment to two towers will ensure the site can accommodate about 2,600 sq. m. of new public space adjacent to Aberdeen Pavilion. The two-storey retail building would include about 4,550 sq. m. of commercial space.
The city’s total capital cost is estimated at about $419 million, but taxpayers will pay only about one third of that – around $146 million. The approved plan will deliver new city-owned facilities for a net cost of about $5 million a year after factoring in revenues from the sale of subterranean and air rights, the statement says.
The new event centre (including a home for the Ottawa 67’s) cost is estimated at nearly $250 million., while the rebuilding of the north-side stands is estimated at $170 million.
Construction will take seven to 10 years, including a period where the partnership’s profitable retail arm will temporarily lose access to more than 40,000 square feet of space, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported.
Council carried several motions to further refine the Lansdowne plan, committing the city to:
- Increase the portion of estimated subterranean and air rights value to be allocated to the city’s affordable housing reserve by 15 per cent (about $5.9 million), in line with the city’s Affordable Housing Land and Funding Policy.
- Direct 50 per cent of any revenues from the disposal of subterranean and air rights that are above the estimated value of $39 million to the affordable housing reserve.
- Remove the 770-unit cap on the number of dwellings that could be developed within the two residential towers and eliminate the minimum parking rate to help address housing needs and provide the city with additional funds through property tax uplift.
- Work with OSEG to develop a social procurement framework to help increase opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups through the Lansdowne 2.0 project.
- Extend the principles guiding traffic demand management for large events to other events held at Lansdowne.
- Increase the community programming plan in the urban park at Lansdowne to better leverage city facilities on non-event days.
- Advance options to increase and enhance public space at Lansdowne, including improving the interface between the event centre and the Great Lawn, improving access to washrooms and other amenities, and providing flexibility for community use.
- Explore options to re-create a berm in proximity to the Great Lawn, preserving the public art piece, Moving Surfaces.
- Assess the feasibility of possible new active transportation infrastructure, including a signalized crossing at Princess Patricia Way and Queen Elizabeth Drive (QED), pedestrian crossovers on both QED and Holmwood Avenue, protected cycling facilities on Fifth Avenue, a wider westbound bike lane at QED and extended sidewalks on Echo Drive.
- Work with the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada to explore adding boat up access to Lansdowne and a pedestrian crossover on QED at Princess Patricia Way.
- Work with OSEG to consider options for including a roof over the new north side stands.
- Work with OSEG to explore future opportunities at Lansdowne for Ottawa-based independent concert promoters.
- Prioritize a series of public realm improvements that would be funded from future city budgets.
- Explore making Aberdeen Square a more hospitable and pedestrian friendly area, possibly by closing or further reducing through traffic.
- Consider providing electric charging stations and carshare facilities on City-controlled parking at Lansdowne, and including transportation demand management criteria in the request for offer for subterranean and air rights.
- Study options to help reduce the potential financial risk to taxpayers stemming from this project.