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Ask Jim Question Thread - Wednesday, April 21.

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  • Ask Jim Question Thread - Wednesday, April 21.

    This thread is open. Please keep your questions within the rules of the forum.

  • #2
    Hello Jim, and thank you for taking the time to participate in this forum.

    Although I support the concept of the proposed downtown arena and entertainment district, I do have questions, concerns and ideas about what's been proposed so far.

    1. My biggest concern is this: what happens if the arena is built by the city but the adjoining lands are not developed by the Katz Group as proposed? Or if the adjoining lands are simply turned into parking lots? Or the lands are sold off? How then will the arena be funded/taxed?

    2. It's been my observation that an office tower doesn't get built unless there is a major tenant lined up first. Similarly, a new highrise hotel doesn't get built until you have a major hotel chain behind it. To what extent will a major office tower tenant and hotel chain be pursued before construction, and who will be responsible for pursuing them (Katz Group, EEDC, the city)? Or will these towers be built regardless of tenants?

    3. Other NHL arenas recently constructed in Canadian cities (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) were built with private funds. If the Katz Group cannot fund an arena on its own, why not approach other corporations to help out - Telus, Shaw, Capital Power, Syncrude, Petro-Canada, Westjet, Ford, Toyota, Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, etc?

    4. One idea I have for other major corporate involvement is revolving naming rights to the arena plus small cut of ticket profit - for 3 years, the arena is named after the biggest corporate donor, then 3 years later it is named after the 2nd biggest corporate donor, and so on. I will let you decide how brilliant an idea that is!

    5. Why only 18,000 seats? I worry that in 30 years time, we'll be going through the same exercise all over again - having to build another rink to retain an NHL team because it's too small, only having to build in the suburbs because there may be no downtown land available to build on.

    6. How about an underground parkade under the arena? This may ease some misguided concerns about the perceived lack of parking, but more importantly, it can be another revenue generator for the arena.

    7. Will the arena, towers and other buildings on the site be reviewed by the Edmonton Design Committee to ensure good architectural standards are met?

    Thank you again for your time and attention.
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012


    • #3
      To repeat SDM

      Thank you for taking the time to participate in this forum, it is appreciated.

      Now for a different sort of question.

      While I think the revitalization of the Downtown core is an important to Edmonton I am curious as to what you see the effect of such financially intensive development in the core having on other areas of Edmonton?

      Targeting a Billion dollar development in such a condensed area makes me wonder if other areas needing revitalization/development will be pushed aside.



      • #4
        Mr. Low,

        Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions regarding the arena. I have two questions, but the first one is more of a commentary that a question, but I would like your reaction to it. I am not convinced with the concept to have what is really a large pedway over 104th ave and labelling it a “winter garden” is the right think to do. I was very excited about the prospect of a new downtown arena with hope that this will be a step to bring life and activity back to downtown. It appears; however, that those behind the arena project want to make the same mistakes that destroyed a successful City Centre decades ago by creating what appears to be the worlds largest pedway.
        I love looking at old photographs from the 1950’s and 1960’s of Jasper Avenue, 101st street and most other downtown streets flanked with store fronts and packed with people in what looked like a completely different city. In the 1970’s, beautiful historic buildings that housed storefronts and street-orientated uses which contributed to a strong urban environment were leveled to make way for either unpalatable architecture or gravel parking lots. Very little has been done to create places that give our city identity and leave a lasting impression on those people who visit. This is an opportunity to do it right. Jane Jacobs wrote, “orthodox planning is much imbued with puritanical and Utopian conceptions of how people should spend their free time, and in planning, these moralisms on people’s private lives are deeply confused with concepts about the workings of cities.”
        Pedways and shopping malls helped kill the street in the 1970’s and by not learning from our mistakes will not bring a dead street to life today. Call it a winter garden, the fact is it will be a giant pedway that will be used, for the most part, a few hours during game days. A downtown arena can do amazing things for our City, but only if done right. Streets make cities successful, not pedways.

        Second Question. The zoning application is to create a brand new zone. The process would be that such a zone would go through the normal process that any rezoning application goes through, maybe with a little more scrutiny; however, once Council approves the new zone, the uses are established and the regulations are in place. At that point, all the power will be in the hands of a City Development Officer to make such lofty decisions on all developments within the zone. Don’t you think that a pure Direct Control, where City Council is the authority, is more appropriate given the nature of the entire concept and what it means to the Citizenry of Edmonton? If not a pure DC, then a DC2 In which case, a detailed plan is submitted as part of that zoning application. This way Council knows what they are approving. Otherwise, it’s just uses and regulations. After all, the funding model, which has been discussed, will rely on public money and ultimately the success of the area to pay down the debt.
        Last edited by Jasper; 21-04-2010, 08:43 AM.


        • #5
          Mr. Low,

          Although no specific funding plans have been announced, there has been much speculation about public money being used for portions of the arena district development. If indeed public money will be used, what is the preferred funding model for the Edmonton Arena District? Do you have some examples of public funding models for arenas in other jurisdictions that you think would be a good model for the Edmonton Arena District?


          • #6
            Jim, I currently have two areas of questions (the first being zoning-related and the second funding-related).

            1. In the zoning submission available from the EAD website, sections 4.e. (page 2) and 6.c. (page 6) refer to flea markets (specifically, to farmer's markets) as a potential usage within the new Arena Area District.

            - Is the intent of accomodating a farmer's market to complement the current downtown farmers market on 104 Street by making available indoor space during the winter months so that said market can operate year-round?

            - Or is the intent to have another farmers market that would run in addition to the current downtown farmers market?

            - Lastly, do you have an idea as to what part of the Arena Area District a farmer's market would likely go into (the section south of 104 Ave, the section north of 104 Ave, etc)?

            2. In the past, the Katz Group has mentioned a development levy as one possible way that the city could recoupe costs if the city were to pay for a major part (or all) of the arena portion of the arena district. However, if the non-arena development of the arena district does not occur (or does not occur in a timely fashion due to market conditions), the city may not have a significant development levy to collect for an extended time period and the city (i.e. the Edmonton taxpayers) could be left "holding the bag" financially for the arena itself.

            - As a way to protect the city (and to incentivize the development of the non-arena parts of the arena district), would the Katz group be open to an arrangement where initially the city gets a cut of the arena revenue in proportion to the city's financial contribution to the arena cost to assure the city a cash flow "to pay the mortgage payments" on the arena? As the surrounding non-arena developments of the arena district are developed and capable of be being taxed by a development levy, then the Katz group and the city could swap a portion of the ownership of the arena revenue for the dollar equivalent of the monies that would be received from development levies.

            - The above process would be staged as the surrounding non-arena portions of the arena district would likely be completed in stages. For example, once a particular part of the non-arena development is done and is able to generate a development levy of say, 5% of the arena's revenue flow, then the city would hand over its rights to 5% of the arena's revenues to the Katz group since the city will now get an equivalent cash flow via the development levy.

            I live about 5 blocks from the proposed arena district and do want to see additional revitilzation to the downtown core that this district would provide. However, as a city taxpayer, I also want to ensure that the city is protected if a development levy route for funding the arena itself is used (and if the district's non-arena developments do not happen after the arena itself is built).

            I look forward to your reply.


            • #7
              I don't think many Edmontonians would like to see another above-ground parkade in the downtown core. Is there any possibility of going the route of City Hall, the Citadel and the Library with an underground parkade? Since you'll likely be sinking the rink beneath ground level anyways, you may as well excavate down a few more floors for parking and save the additional street space for public space and shops.

              PLEASE get some architectural planning and design concepts in place before asking our representatives to approve the whole thing unseen.
              Proposing solutions to problems that don't exist since 2007


              • #8
                Hi Mr. Low!

                Thanks for taking our questions.
                I have a few questions that I hope you will be able to shed more light on.

                1. The winter garden seems like a repeat of city center mall. It sucked the life off the streets and put it inside. Why is it necessary in the project? Would widened crosswalks not be sufficient, as in hundreds of other pedestrian oriented cities?

                2. We have heard from Katz Group that the arena and district will be "iconic". Can you elaborate further on this? Will the architect be given free reign? Will the whole complex be designed as iconic, or only the arena?

                3. Big names like Calatrava have been thrown around. Is Katz Group still committed to a "starchitect"? What specifically will the architect be designing? Will they master plan the entire thing, or only design the arena itself?

                4. Can you share who might be in the running for architectural firms to design this?

                5. What design credentials do people on the Planning & Development team have? Can you tell us about previous projects you or others involved have worked on?

                That is all, and I wish you the best of luck with this project. We are all counting on Katz Group and people like you to do this right! Thanks again.


                • #9
                  What do you think will happen if this project does not get off the ground.
                  I sincerely hope it does-but-what if.
                  Last edited by Gemini; 21-04-2010, 02:28 PM.
                  Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.


                  • #10

                    To echo some of the previous comments, first off, thanks for being here…

                    Now that you are here, like many others I have a number of questions for you.

                    Firstly, I wondered if you can you comment on the extent of “the arena district” insofar as it relates to your use of the term? By that I’m asking if it is restricted to those parcels covered by your rezoning application or does it include “the other side of the streets” fronting the perimeter of your site or does it extend one block in any direction from the perimeter of your site? Or…?

                    Secondly, assuming that the arena district - regardless of its defined area - will impact an area that will extend well past the actual perimeters of your site, how much consultation has taken place with the owners of those affected parcels to engage them in the integration of your proposal and to manage its impact on their sites and the long-term development of their sites with your proposal?

                    Thirdly, your website is accessed under a banner that doesn’t talk about an arena or even about an arena district but instead is labeled “”. This seems to be a theme which is presented consistently on the site and in many of the presentations on the arena and even in the language used when discussing a new arena. In the last few years alone, we have seen the following projects in and around downtown Edmonton (a list which I am sure is far from complete):

                    Illuminada 2
                    Icon 1 and 2
                    Sobey's on 104th
                    Enterprise Square
                    Alta Vista II
                    River Vista
                    Alta Vista
                    Robins Health Sciences Centre at Grant MacEwan
                    Parliament Condos
                    Federal Building
                    Professional Building/Intact Tower Renovation
                    Epcor Tower at Station Lands
                    Sir Winston Churchill Square
                    The Art Gallery of Alberta
                    Sobey’s at Jasper and 104th

                    This is by no means a comprehensive list but - even if it was - even long time downtown arena fans and supporters like myself would be hard-pressed to present the arena - or even an arena district - as “the” solution for revitalizing downtown and not just another piece of the puzzle. A potentially integral piece of the puzzle certainly, but one single piece of the puzzle nonetheless in a puzzle whose completion is already much closer to having critical mass than was there a decade ago.

                    Fourth, in regard to the financial commitment of 100 million that has clearly been understood to be a commitment to the arena (not to additional development opportunities surrounding or attached to the arena), it should be noted that 100 million - while a considerable sum of money on its own - is not a particularly large sum when related to large downtown projects whether or not they include an arena. Station Lands alone will have spent 3 or 4 times that on the first phase alone for the EPCOR Tower. Without getting into a detailed financial model - which I’m sure you are not yet in a position to discuss anyway - can you comment on the advantages to the city of private ownership of the arena even if some public monies are invested in it directly or indirectly in the adjacent infrastructure? As examples, property taxes would be payable to the city under private ownership that would not be payable under public ownership and there may be advantages in financing the arena and/or adjacent future development where the arena (and its revenue streams) is privately owned?

                    Fifth, from an urban planning perspective, when the city has gone to such great lengths to eliminate above and below grade impediments to our urban edges at the street level (i.e. removing the rat hole and the bridges at 101st Street and 105th Street and the CP Bridge over Jasper, why does your proposal and the zoning which you have applied for still seem to include a block long “winter garden” over a full block of 104th Avenue which is one of only two gateway east/west entries to our downtown core (the other being Jasper Avenue)? These things never work from a pedestrian/street perspective and one only needs to look at the tunnel 98th Avenue feeds into at the legislative grounds or the tunnel 118th Avenue takes at Rexall Place or even the two sides of 100th Street under the widened City Centre Pedway (which looks good from a distance and which is very successful at the “plus 15” level but which is a disaster on both sides of the street it spans).

                    Sixth, there seems to be a good – and growing – grass roots support for a downtown arena albeit tempered somewhat by the questions surrounding the ultimate financial model. I have been a vocal “member of that camp” for more than a decade and have seen nothing that would make me want to reconsider that. But, having said that, what will happen adjacent to or nearby a downtown arena will happen whether those things are an integral part of an arena project or not. And whether they are an integral part or not they should be subject to the same scrutiny of design and the same requirement for strong active and lively urban edges. With that being the case, why have you chosen to bundle the certainty of the arena with the uncertainty of adjacent hotel and office and commercial and residential development timing? Would it not be easier to plan for those things and to acknowledge and allow for that independence and their reliance on market conditions? That would seem to allow “the arena development” to proceed without being encumbered by “the arena district” and would allow the review process administratively, politically and publicly to focus on the core element for which there seems to be public support (and an acknowledgement that it is likely to need some public investment regardless of the final model) and not have the arena sidetracked on the “what ifs” surrounding the adjacent development. It seems to me that you would be better off “under promising and over delivering” than setting up what could only happen the other way.

                    Lastly, regardless of your answers, I would like to wish you every success in arriving at the best design solutions from a planning perspective and from an architectural perspective for a truly iconic element for the City of Edmonton and in getting it built for the 2014 season.

                    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee


                    • #11
                      Closed to allow Jim time to respond to these great questions. Please enter any new questions in Thursday's thread - opened early to accommodate you.