Ottawa park design to be full of generic storefonts, computer-rendered people

If you’ve been staying up nights wondering what Ottawa’s redesigned Lansdowne Park would look like, well, wait no longer: You now have a selection of generic-looking renderings of various elements of the park to choose from. The revamped Frank Clair Stadium looks a bit freaky, merging an older structure on one side of the field with a modern one on the other, but at least now it’s clear what that “cedar veil” wall will look like. (Pretty much a curvy wall. Made of cedar.)

While most of the media ooh and aah over the pretty pictures, the controversy remains whether spending $129 million and turning over a chunk of a public park rent-free to a mall developer is worth it in order to “revitalize” a downtown public space. “The issue becomes what is good use of public land,” Michael Tiger of Friends of Lansdowne Park told CTV. “Should public land be given to four developers at no cost free over 30 years to build a shopping complex?” (The main shopping outlet is amusingly called “Pure Foods” in the renderings, but you can guess who it really is.)

The deal is expected to be voted on by the Ottawa city council on June 28, and then immediately proceed to a pitched court battle.

3 comments on “Ottawa park design to be full of generic storefonts, computer-rendered people

  1. Agreed, Neil. The views of the stadium itself are a few and far between. I would have liked to see a bit more detail, frankly. And it makes no sense to simply rebuild one side of the facility (as you may know, the civic centre, the arena where the 67’s play, is under the North stands). This is particularly so given the fact that engineers have suggested that the north side “raker beams” are in nearly as poor shape as the south side stands (which have since been demolished) were.

    The city council failed to conduct an open competition for stadium redesign. They single sourced with the present group (OSEG) who claimed they would bring CFL football back to town (which they will, if all goes ahead).

    While I would very much like to see that, the amount of “public assets” going the other way are a concern, as is the “lowball” nature of the stadium project. If they are really getting this commercial land for nothing, you’d think a little more cash might go into the stadium/rink complex – especially since one of the principles also owns the 67’s.

    On another note, I’ve never been sold that this is the right place for a rebuilt football facility. The old stadium had serious access problems and, as with the new design, had limited parking.

    Perhaps a new 8-10k arena at this site along with the public parklands and a retail complex (smaller) would be the best use. A 25-30k football stadium really should have better access, in my view.

  2. The purpose of the football/team stadium is to allow the developers to avoid competitive bids. The developers have a “conditional” CFL franchise which allows them to claim that only their group can make this vision a reality. None of them give a hoot about the CFL.

    Interestingly, when the Ottawa Stadium Group (OSEG) initially launched their campaign a few years back, the football element was much more prominently featured. More recently, the return of football has been more shunted to the background.

    Still a long way to go…although most councillors appear to be in favour and the support amongst the local press is near unanimous there will be legal battles fought over the “sole sourcing”, how the development fits in with the city’s “Official Plan”, plus council debates over financing and traffic…

    Rightly or wrongly, I would it bet it happens, just a matter of when

  3. One interesting wrinkle here. The lever for this stadium is a CFL team. The CFL is not a particularly successful financial venture. All 3 Ontario teams have gone bankrupt once in the last decade. The developers have found a very interesting way to turn a profit from the team.
    The city and the developers are supposed to share the profits from the retail development attached to the stadium. Each is supposed to take an 8% return of equity based based on the amount of equity invested in the retail development. Here’s the interesting part – the developers have managed to have the supposed value of the CFL team recognized as equity (the city’s stadium equity is not recognized for this calculation). In effect, the developers have turned a sports team that could not be counted on making money, into an 8% annual returning investment. I think that particular swindle might be a first.