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IanO
31-03-2006, 02:29 PM
Bringing new life to downtown core


The Edmonton Journal


Friday, March 31, 2006



CREDIT: Bruce Edwards, The Journal, file
A vibrant downtown needs a mix of businesses, affordable housing and amenities.

Re: "Corporate sector has role to play in downtown revitalization: Canada's 'boiler room' needs to get rid of its Discountville mentality," by Gary Lamphier, The Journal, March 28.

I wonder if Lamphier and I are living in the same city. While Lamphier sees our downtown as "stunted and gap- toothed," I see the perfect mix of skyscrapers and historical buildings.

The dusty, garbage-strewn parking lots have been dwindling over the last five years, often replaced by high-rise condo developments. The Omega at the top of 105th Street hill, and the soon-to-be- constructed Icon, on 104th Street just north of Jasper Avenue, are two recent examples of old parking lots giving way to new living spaces.

I believe Lamphier's assertion that the corporate sector has to play a bigger role in revitalizing downtown is fundamentally flawed. Many urban planners have stated that the key to revitalizing any downtown core is finding the right balance of businesses, residences, and amenities. Clearly, over the last 30 years, this mix has been skewed to businesses, resulting in the virtual ghost town that exists after 5 p.m. on any given weekday.

While the new crop of condos is a move in the right direction, it's clearly priced towards the urban professional or newly retired. For downtown to be a vibrant community again, it must have living spaces affordable to all income classes, not just the rich. Does it make sense that both the U of A and Grant MacEwan have or will have campuses downtown, yet affordable local housing for its students barely exists?

And let's dispel this myth that the downtown abandonment phenomenon is exclusive to Edmonton. Calgary's and Toronto's downtowns are just as empty as ours after hours! Once the workday is done, the mad rush of commuters to suburban homes plays out in every major Canadian city.

I spent a four-day weekend catching a Toronto Blue Jays series. Even though I stayed at the Skydome Hotel in the heart of downtown Toronto, I was amazed at the lack of street-level evening activities. Saturday-night pedestrian traffic in downtown Toronto was incredibly light.

Optics aside, while other Canadian cities have their major sports arena downtown, it really offers no major advantage. The biggest advantage Rexall Place has over any proposed downtown location is logistics. Think of the traffic snarls on Gretzky Drive and 118th Avenue during Oiler game days. Imagine the gridlock if the same traffic volumes were moved to the downtown core.

Yes, it would be great if more businesses moved downtown, but does our city really need more skyscrapers? Do we need more monolithic eyesores blotting out the little sunlight that manages to shine its glorious rays on our city core?

There are many existing buildings that remain abandoned or underused. The Paramount Theatre, the Hops store, and the old Commerce Building currently underutilized by EEDC, are examples of historical buildings that could and should be renovated for new tenants.

While the corporate community can play a role in downtown renewal, it's a small role at best. Ultimately, the role of rebuilding downtown into a healthy, urban village lies in the hands of its civic leaders and its citizens.

Ken Loo, Edmonton

The Edmonton Journal 2006

IanO
31-03-2006, 02:31 PM
except for the arena comment and no skyscrapers....amen

sean
31-03-2006, 03:11 PM
The Paramount could be turned into a corporate meeting space and upscale theatre very easily (possibly). I haven't seen the interior, but other cities have theatres where one can go to enjoy dinner and a movie. Really, it would be the ultimate date treatment. If you could be able to sit in comfortable little loveseats at dimly lit tables watching a movie while eating or having drinks. Yes it would cost more, but we don't have anything like that really.

It could also double as a smaller convention type space where companies can have meetings and presentations while getting good service. Put some decent A/V gear in there, maybe the possibility of catering food in from some of the other local restaraunts and you wouldn't need a full kitchen.

Parking would be about the only major fault I can see.
With the right backing and marketing, It could be fairly decent I think.

IanO
31-03-2006, 03:50 PM
The Paramount could be turned into a corporate meeting space and upscale theatre very easily (possibly). I haven't seen the interior, but other cities have theatres where one can go to enjoy dinner and a movie. Really, it would be the ultimate date treatment. If you could be able to sit in comfortable little loveseats at dimly lit tables watching a movie while eating or having drinks. Yes it would cost more, but we don't have anything like that really.

It could also double as a smaller convention type space where companies can have meetings and presentations while getting good service. Put some decent A/V gear in there, maybe the possibility of catering food in from some of the other local restaraunts and you wouldn't need a full kitchen.

Parking would be about the only major fault I can see.
With the right backing and marketing, It could be fairly decent I think.




one of the greatest spaces in the city for movie or theatre or opera. As for parking...there is plenty in scotia, commerce, just south of it and it is beside an LRT>

MylesC
31-03-2006, 04:19 PM
I've often said Paramount could be a great classy, first-run theatre. Have it play a new blockbuster a day or two before general release. I think it would be very cool...it's also a great theatre interior.

ShermanT
31-03-2006, 05:56 PM
The Paramount could be turned into a corporate meeting space and upscale theatre very easily (possibly). I haven't seen the interior, but other cities have theatres where one can go to enjoy dinner and a movie. Really, it would be the ultimate date treatment. If you could be able to sit in comfortable little loveseats at dimly lit tables watching a movie while eating or having drinks. Yes it would cost more, but we don't have anything like that really.


Yes! For some reason we don't have any "deluxe" theatres like that. Sit on a Lazy Boy with lots of space, with your own table, and a waiter. Be able to order real food that comes from a skilled chef and a reasonable policy on noise and interruptions. My friend came back from Australia telling me about this very thing that exists there and I was totally floored. The way that home theatres are progressing and the decline of the common movie theatre, this fits right in there.

Sonic Death Monkey
31-03-2006, 07:24 PM
Yeah, I was just thinking that we need a Silver City calibre movie theatre downtown. The only one left is the one in City Centre in all its 80's pastel glory.

RichardS
31-03-2006, 09:33 PM
No freaking kidding. That movie theatre still reminds me of High School...

MylesC
31-03-2006, 11:55 PM
I quite like the feel of the Eaton Centre theatre... :oops:

They have been rumoured to be renovating for a while now. I wonder if that will still happen with the sale to Empire.

DanC
31-03-2006, 11:58 PM
New seats please! I have been going Downtown for every movie lately, but found myself at the South Common Theater...damn those chairs their are like lazy boys or something.

Speedyturtle
01-04-2006, 12:46 AM
Yes, definitely needs a renovation

CSR
02-04-2006, 12:52 PM
I spent a four-day weekend catching a Toronto Blue Jays series. Even though I stayed at the Skydome Hotel in the heart of downtown Toronto, I was amazed at the lack of street-level evening activities. Saturday-night pedestrian traffic in downtown Toronto was incredibly light.

Optics aside, while other Canadian cities have their major sports arena downtown, it really offers no major advantage. The biggest advantage Rexall Place has over any proposed downtown location is logistics. Think of the traffic snarls on Gretzky Drive and 118th Avenue during Oiler game days. Imagine the gridlock if the same traffic volumes were moved to the downtown core.


Actually, I don't think that downtown is the right place for a sports arena either.

The biggest problem with the location of Rexall ( not to comment on the arena itself ) is the crappy LRT station that makes you stand in an arctic windtunnel, jams huge crowds onto a tiny escalator, makes you hike up 2 floors worth of stairs, only to have to walk outside again to actually get to the arena or agricom.

Imagine instead a new arena with an LRT station right inside the concourse.

Edmonchuck
02-04-2006, 02:19 PM
I hear that this potential move downtown is spurred more from the fact that Northlands and the Edmonton Investors Group are at odds. Someone at odds with the Cap-Ex club than any desire to move downtown.

IanO
02-04-2006, 03:21 PM
i quite like empire....needs a reno, but not a new complex.

canucklehead
29-04-2006, 09:55 PM
I love the Eaton Centre theatre the way it is. So its a bit dated, thats what makes it charming. Its still the best venue in the city. I find the stadium screens distracting. Clareview has good sightlines but I hate the location. E.C. aka City Centre, has the best overall design and layout. I see 99% of my movies there.

Having said that I miss the Paramount and I'd love to see it run Canadian films exclusively, or indy films ala the Garneau or even as the Premiere venue for exclusive first run movies. I think that would be pretty sweet as well...

Sonic Death Monkey
30-04-2006, 11:21 AM
I'm sorry, but everytime I step into the City Centre movie theatre, the haunting strains of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by the Simple Minds becomes stuck in my head like some aural virus. 80's nostalgia aside, it needs a makeover.

However, I'm having major doubts about the City Centre West theatre getting renovated, having a stadium-style multiplex built in the core, or the Paramount turned into an indy film house. For the last couple of years, we keep hearing about low box office receipts and the impending death of movie theatres due to the declining quality of films, increasing prices for ticket and concessions, unchecked bad behavior by movie patrons, and the popularity of home theatre technology. So until something is done to bring people back to the movie theatres, things here in Edmonton will stand pat for now, I fear.

canucklehead
30-04-2006, 02:36 PM
Yeah with receipts flat, and DVD rentals and sales generating more cash for the film companies than theatrical releases its not looking good to see any new theatres opening up, at least with the current economic model. I could see attedance up if the concept of monthly movie passes ever goes mainstream. AMC was testing them in several american markets in the states, and they seemed to be rather successful. If Cineplex offered a pass for $20/month I would certainly buy one right away...