October 16, 2012
Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park project gets go-ahead
Four years ago, a team of Ottawa developers and the owner of the city’s Junior A Hockey Ottawa 67s, paid a visit to then-mayor Larry O’Brien.
They were trying to bring a Canadian Football League team back to Ottawa and had secured a provisional franchise from the league. The provision? The city must have a decent stadium to play in.
The developers had a plan to redevelop Lansdowne Park, home of a derelict stadium, several other mouldering buildings and acres of asphalt for parking.
It was to be a public-private partnership that would result in new south-side stands for Frank Clair stadium, refurbished north-side stands, including the hockey rink beneath them, an underground parking garage, refurbished display and entertainment spaces, a major new park, and retail, office and residential space along two sides of the property.
The park has been ripe for redevelopment for years, not only because of its deteriorating condition, but because of its location.
It’s about a 10-minute drive south of Parliament Hill, and is nestled in a curve in the Rideau Canal, which borders in on two sides. A residential community and an arterial road are on the other two sides.
While O’Brien tried to characterize it as a done deal, the reality was years of negotiations, drafting and redrafting plans and a court challenge.
On Oct. 10, all that ended when city council voted 21-3 to proceed with the redevelopment. The formal closing of the deal was to occur Oct. 12.
The result is a plan that will give the development team — Ottawa Sport and entertainment Group — a stadium in time for the 2014 CFL season. The rest of the project will be finished by the summer of 2015.
The financial deal for the project is complex, but the development group will operate the stadium with a revenue-sharing agreement which will eventually return the city’s investment. In addition, the city has sold development rights to some buildings on the project’s periphery.
That means that although the project might be worth a total of around half a billion dollars, the city’s capital commitment is about $219 million, much of which will be funded by $167.4 million in borrowing.
But the city expects that the property taxes on the new buildings will bring in almost $182 million during the life of the 30-year agreement.
When all costs and savings factored in, the analysis showed a net amount of $180 million flowing to the city over the life of the deal.
The city also announced on Oct. 10 that Pomerleau Inc., had won the bidding for the stadium reconstruction and the parking garage.
The two contracts will be worth about $136 million. That work will likely begin this month.
Although the final vote on the Lansdowne project wasn’t until Oct. 10, preliminary work has been going on all summer.
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