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Ask Jim Question Thread - Thursday April 22.

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  • Ask Jim Question Thread - Thursday April 22.

    We closed the Wednesday thread to allow Jim time to respond to the very thorough questions there.

    You may start asking any new questions here.

    The answers to Wednesday's questions will be posted tomorrow by 9 am mountain.

  • #2
    We know Mr Katz has the Oilers and fans interest at heart.
    Why did he not just propose a new arena for downtown.
    A new arena without the complex surrounding it.
    Did he think by adding a surrounding complex it would be better accepted by
    City Council and Edmontonians. Or, is it his way of getting the city to cover
    some of the cost of this project.
    Last edited by Gemini; 21-04-2010, 06:31 PM.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.


    • #3
      Thank you for this Jim.

      If I recall correctly, Lyle Best chaired an Edmonton committee to evaluate whether or not to build a new arena. Part of this process was to identify potential sites involved.

      The committee’s work identified several potential sites in the downtown that could accommodate any new facility. Specific sites were not named for commercial and competitive reasons.
      While I understand not naming sites publicly during this process of evaluating whether to build a new arena or not, what I don't understand is how we arrived at this location as being the "best" one. The outward appearance , to me anyway, is simply that the Katz group has acquired property that is largely vacant and likely much cheaper than other sites downtown. How can I be assured that the proposed site is actually the best one?

      Barry Johns recently proposed another site downtown that at least seems reasonable to me. How many other sites have been considered? What was the criteria by which to select this location over another?

      Thank you.


      • #4
        Will you be making a push to rename the future MacEwan LRT station just like the U of A pushed to rename Bay Station?
        $2.00 $2.25 $2.50 $2.75 $2.85 $3.00 $3.20 $3.25


        • #5
          There have been a few elements of the arena plan presented thus far (i.e. winter garden, 2 rinks, hotel, office towers). Are these elements integral to the arena plan or could they be entirely changed/omitted?

          How do you think the adjacent proposed student residences and office towers will contribute towards the "entertainment" value in an arena/entertainment district?

          Thank you Mr. Low.


          • #6

            I have not had an opportunity to do a “thorough” review of the proposed zoning amendments that have been applied for but there are some areas that I think might be “questionable” so here they are:

            "The design of above grade parking structures shall be consistent with the architectural style of the area.”

            Is there really a chance that an iconic arena development will include above grade parking?

            "At such time as an LRT Station has been opened adjacent to the site or a Shared Use Parking Impact Assessment is submitted, the applicant for a development permit may apply for a reduction in the minimum number of parking spaces. The applicant must demonstrate through a Shared use Parking Impact Assessment that by virtue of the use, character, or location of the proposed development, and its relationship to public transit facilities and any other available parking facilities, the parking required for the proposed development may be less than any minimum set out in Schedule 1 of Section 54 of the Zoning Bylaw."

            Is it intended that these “shared use” parking stalls be controlled by the arena (or the arena operator) or will they be controlled by their respective owners if they do not share the same ownership either initially or over time?

            "An above grade pedestrian connection may be provided across 104 Avenue to provide a linkage between developments north and south of 104 Avenue. The above grade connection may be activated by uses which include, but are not limited to retail commercial, restaurants, temporary events and/or exhibits."

            It is my understanding that with 104th Avenue being a “gateway entry” into downtown, it has been city policy to exclude plus-15 connections (noting that a similar policy existed for 109th Street prior to MacEwan’s parkade connection). I know I mentioned my concerns from a design perspective (even manhattan doesn't allow large "bridges" above grade) in yesterday’s questions but wondered if policy areas like this (which I do not necessarily agree with by the way) have been discussed with the City or even how much the overall proposed zoning document may have been discussed with the City prior to submitting the request?

            "The Development Officer shall ensure that new developments and major renovations reflect the Urban Design Policies of the Downtown Plan, the Urban Design Guidelines Manual and the following Design Guidelines and Regulations. Where a conflict arises, the zoning regulations shall prevail."

            Given that “the following Design Guidelines and Regulations” are quite vague, is there a rationale for using them to exclude any requirement for all future phases of the development – which may not occur for 5 or 10 or 15 years – or future major renovations - which may not occure for 20 or 25 or 30 years or more - to comply with the same criteria as other downtown development or redevelopment projects in the City at those points in time?

            "At least 65% of at-grade street Frontage on 102 and 103 Streets between 103 Avenue and 104 Avenue, and 103 Avenue between 102 and 103 Streets shall be developed for retail, services and other commercial uses to provide for commercial continuity and promote pedestrian traffic."

            Is there a reason that 104th Avenue is specifically excluded from what is a pretty nominal 65% of at-grade frontage (manhattan wants 80%) being devoted to commercial continuity and promoting pedestrian traffic?

            The maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for the site as a whole shall not exceed 18.0. Excess density may be transferred between the area north of 104 Avenue and the area of South of 104 Avenue.”

            In your experience, do you expect to be able to maintain “world class iconic architecture” with an FAR of 18.0 (or an even greater FAR if you are transferring density from one side of 104th Avenue to the other) on site(s) of this size (when new york's world trade centre complex will barely reach 15)?

            Building Height shall not exceed 180 m, nor 60 stories.”

            Once the airport overlay has been “removed”, do you see the potential for 60 stories elsewhere in the core (or the north edge for that matter)?

            Public Art

            “a. Public Art on the site should be incorporated into publicly accessible open spaces and may
            also be incorporated into the architectural facades, breaks in the facades of buildings and
            landscaped areas.

            “b. Public Art may be provided in the form of programmed water features and lighting displays.”

            This one isn’t “questionable” from my perspective other than to note it should more appropriately be included in the City’s policy on public art period, not just in a specific zoning schedule.

            Once again, thanks for being here and best wishes on moving this forward (although perhaps not exactly as first proposed). For what it’s worth, you have the support of at least one of your neighbors for what you are trying to accomplish.

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


            • #7
              Mr. Low, while I feel that you and your fellow team members are very qualified, I think that many people would agree that Daryl Katz has to be more visible in the Edmonton Arena District planning process. The Katz Group will be asking for huge commitments from the City of Edmonton. Public financing will be required for the arena portion of the development, and possibly other areas impacted by the development of the Arena District. For example, LRT would have to be built and transportation improvements like Gateway Boulevard/Walterdale Bridge would have to be considered. There are many concerns that must be addressed before we go ahead, and I think that Daryl Katz has to validate the concerns of Edmonton residents to win public confidence and support for the Arena District.

              Jim, will Daryl Katz be more involved as the Edmonton Arena District moves ahead? Thank you very much.
              Last edited by The_Cat; 21-04-2010, 11:43 PM.
              "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.


              • #8
                Mr. Low

                My biggest concern is what if katz have submitted to city planning for zoning application for the arena projects.
                katz's zoning application will be approved in later date, then suddenly , maybe one tower have never built anytime in the futue so what happened to the zoning applications that got approved in the first place ??

                thank you for your time, James
                Edmonton Rocks Rocks Rocks


                • #9
                  Mr. Low

                  Can you reveal what existing projects are being used as inspiration for the new downtown Edmonton arena complex? Is it just other arena districts that are being looked at? or are there other iconic structures that Katz Group is looking to for inspiration?

                  Thank you.


                  • #10
                    Mr. Low.

                    Other then the 2014 date for the arena what is the time table for the other projects?? Or will these projects be done at about the same time??


                    • #11
                      Jim, I have one more set of questions focusing on the proposed large (about a block wide) above ground 104 Avenue pedway connection (aka the Winter Garden). I know that this particular item was raised by several of the prior posters, but I have some questions / comments regarding it that as far as I can tell, were not yet raised (or in the case of point 4 below, I've articulated with more detail). They are as follows.

                      1. Are there any examples (from anywhere around the world) of above ground pedways that are similar in scale / concept to what the Katz Group is proposing for the Arena District? If so, could examples (including pictures) be posted for us to see / evaluate? If not, is it because what is being proposed by your group is truly unique regarding scale / concept?

                      2. Based on renderings made public to date, the proposed pedway structure over 104 Avenue appears to be about one block wide. If it is at a regular pedway height of 15 feet above ground (for the base of the pedway), that will almost certainly create a claustrophobic tunnelling effect below the pedway at a sidewalk / street level (including the significant amplification of traffic noise found in tunnel-like structures). Will consideration be given to ensure that the base of the proposed 104 Avenue pedway is at least 30 feet (or even 45 feet) above the ground level to decrease any tunnelling effect that would be perceived by those walking / driving along 104 Avenue at the ground level?

                      3. Another issue with large pedways during daytime hours is the lack of natural sunlight reaching the sidewalk / street level. Would efforts be made by the Katz Group to incorporate, say, light pipes (light tubes) to pass natural sunlight to the area under the proposed 104 Avenue pedway during daytime hours? In addition to the issue of pedway height discussed in the prior point, natural light during the daytime hours under the pedway may help to alleviate the feeling of "being in a tunnel" at the street / sidewalk level.

                      4. In the Arena District zoning submission that was made available to the public on April 19, sections 11.1.b (page 7) and 11.3.c (page 10) deal with certain street level urban design issues (blank walls / open spaces / frontage for retail, services, and commercial). However, these sections only deal with 102 and 103 Streets (between 103 and 104 Avenues) and 103 Avenue (between 102 and 103 Streets). I was not able to find any equivalent sections in the zoning submission regarding the street level urban design along 104 Avenue. What is the current intent / plan for the urban design at the street level along 104 Avenue? (I'm thinking in particular about the block-long street frontage under the proposed pedway but feel free to comment about all of the 104 Avenue frontage, from 101 to 104 Streets.)

                      As you've probably noticed, the massive pedway proposed to go over 104 Avenue is one of the the biggest "hot button" arena district architectural issues for a good number of us C2E posters. I have no doubt that it would be reasonably possible to create a spectacular indoor Winter Garden area, given the size of the pedway footprint that it would be built upon. However, the street level under this pedway is just as important and without special effort in design, it will be very easy to end up with a 104 Avenue street level ambiance akin to the roadway level at the 118 Avenue pedway (the pedway / underpass between Rexall Place and the exhibition grounds) or the 97 Avenue tunnel under the Legislature Grounds. An outcome at the street level for 104 Avenue that even remotely resembles the two aforementioned examples almost makes me shudder, as that sort of street level urban form should not end up in a downtown area where we want people to feel welcome at the sidewalk / street level.

                      As per my post from Wednesday, I do want to reiterate that I am in support of a downtown arena district. However, good urban design will be paramount since once built, Edmontonians will have to live with (and visitors from around the world experience) the arena district's urban form for a long time to come.

                      Again, I look forward to your reply.


                      • #12
                        Mr. Low,

                        Thank you very much for participating in this.

                        I would like to know what the impetus is behind the Winter Garden? Was it suggested by an architect, arena consultant, transportation consultant, member of the Katz group, or members of the public?

                        Your hope is to create an Arena District, and the word "District" implies a large area with a diverse collection of loosely related structures and services. Rather than a District I am afraid that the Winter Garden will result in something that is closer to an Arena Mall or Arena Themepark. I think that would be repeating the mistakes of the past, and it would seem to run counter to the city's goals in revitalizing the downtown.
                        Last edited by newfangled; 22-04-2010, 09:10 AM. Reason: grammar


                        • #13

                          How will you ensure that this development will connect to the rest of downtown and the rest of the northedge of downtown Edmonton, everything from street integration to connecting with the pedway system and the LRT. How will your plans mesh with the drafted Edmonton Downtown Plan?

                          Also, it would be nice to see you use pictures and video where possible to demonstrate your ideas and plans when responding to these questions
                          A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.


                          • #14
                            Hi Jim,

                            Thanks for taking the time to participate here on C2E. After reviewing your answers from yesterday's questions, I'm even more concerned by the "Winter Garden" concept than I was before.

                            While I'm pleased to see that three sides of the arena will have active facades, I'm curious as to why you feel that 104 Ave. does not deserve the same treatment? Being that this is a major arterial and a highly visible side of the building and in fact the side that more prominently faces the downtown you intend to revitalize, why do you feel that you need to build over the avenue rather than be active on it?

                            While you seem to try to differentiate the "Winter Garden" idea from things like City Centre Mall and the pedway system, I don't feel that you have addressed the concerns that brought those comparisons. It is in no small part of these inward-facing developments (no matter what they are called) that many visitors to our city still feel that our downtown is "dead" or at least seriously lacking activity for a city of our size.

                            I guess my question is, how do you intend to "revitalize downtown" by building concepts that have so far provably had the opposite effect on our downtown - namely building a sterile face (e.g., lacking in active usage such as retail) on a major and highly visible avenue, and building an indoor facility whose very intent is to take people off the streets where they are most needed?
                            Strathcona City Separatist


                            • #15
                              Hi Jim, it's me again!

                              Re: the arena itself, I think many of us agree that nobody wants to see the concrete block that Rexall Place is now. What they built in Columbus looks outstanding. Will the new arena itself have more pedestrian-friendly features, such as street-level retail/restaurant spaces, and windows?

                              p.s. to answer your question from yesterday, the "18,000 seats" was derived from prior media reports.
                              “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