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Ask Jim - Thursday Answers

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  • Ask Jim - Thursday Answers

    Dear members,

    Mr. Low is running late today due to other commitments.

    The answers will be posted here as soon as he is ready. Given the desire he expressed to answer these detailed questions to the fullest extent possible, I can appreciate his desire to do this right.

    Please accept his apologies.

    Thank you.

    I said this because coming here makes my heart hurt.

  • #2
    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks again for all your time and great questions, and apologies for being slow in responding. I had some other commitments today that got in the way and I wanted time to be able to give you as full a response as I could.

    Off the top, one of the big “hot button” issues, to quote kal104, is the Winter Garden concept. I’ve addressed specific questions about it yesterday and to some of the questions below. But rather than do it all piecemeal with short answers to specific questions, I thought it would be helpful to give you the “long answer” as well, so here goes…

    The urban design aspiration for an above grade multifunctional climate controlled event space at the main entrance to the new downtown Edmonton arena is based on several important considerations. Key among them is public safety and the ability to safely and efficiently distribute large numbers of arriving and departing patrons from the arena. An elevated Winter Garden allows a large number of patrons to safely cross 104 Avenue and avoid significant and potentially dangerous conflicts with vehicular traffic flows, including a large number of exiting vehicles from numerous parking facilities in the district. This will also avoid large groups of pedestrians clustering together at sidewalk intersections and protect against the hazardous temptation to cross major streets at unprotected mid block locations. The segregation and distribution of these large surges of pedestrian flow will be a vital component of the district wide traffic circulation and congestion management system. Thus, the Winter Garden will afford an opportunity for managed pedestrian flows in the immediate vicinity of the arena, afford direct access to the new LRT Station at 105 Avenue and 104 Street while maintaining smooth vehicular flows and critical emergency vehicle access on adjacent roadways.

    A significant number of patrons will still be expected and encouraged to use a greatly improved street level pedestrian system created by the project. The project will include a widened sidewalk with extensive hardscape and landscape treatment along the northern side of 104 Avenue. Numerous pedestrianized street edges will be created along 102 and 103 Streets between 103 and 104 Avenue, 101 Street between 104 and 105 Avenues, along 103 Avenue west of 102 Street, the west edge of the site on the 104 Street alignment north of 104 Avenue, and a new pedestrian treatment along 105 Avenue between 101 Street and 104 Street to facilitate improved access to the new LRT station. The project will be designed to create an active street life including retail uses, restaurants, entertainment venues as well as office and residential lobbies which will all have street level access and presence. New buildings will be designed to create a continuous and largely transparent street edge and will include a streetscape design with special hardscape and landscape features aimed at bringing new energy and vitality around the project and extending to adjacent blocks.

    A further consideration is the all weather connectivity to a variety of onsite and offsite parking facilities, offices and other commercial activities as well as the existing infrastructure of elevated pedways. It will afford immediate access to nearby hospitality amenities as well as food and beverage and entertainment establishments to encourage arena bound patrons to come early and stay late, thereby easing the peak impacts of vehicular and pedestrian flows. Making use of the extensive existing pedway system will facilitate further distribution of parking supply into surrounding blocks while extending and enhancing revenue opportunities to surrounding businesses and parking operators including publicly owned parkades.

    Lastly, the Winter Garden is intended to be a very active brightly illuminated space with extensive use of LED, dynamic and static signage. This signage is also expected to be informative and entertaining. If viewable from street level such an active signage environment could be distracting to motorists and pose a safety threat to pedestrians.

    The Winter Garden has the potential to be a multipurpose assembly venue for a wide variety of civic, private, community and charitable events. It will be a key component in furthering Edmonton’s existing year round festival reputation. The current plan envisions an approximately one acre plaza or town square that can be a destination in its’ own right for seasonal events, activities and programming or a pre or post arena event space allowing pedestrians to move freely and safely from place to place. The Winter Garden is seen as a primary element of a rich and varied pedestrian realm within the arena entertainment district and the core component of this connective infrastructure.

    That’s the long answer….hope it helps.

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    Addicted to C2E

    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.

    ANSWER: The experience of other cities has shown that building only a new arena does not maximize the potential of the facility. The whole arena concept has evolved over the past few decades from suburban arenas surrounded by parking to stand-alone downtown arenas with no integrated development. But the current – and most successful – model, is a sports and entertainment district well-integrated into the urban fabric of the downtown. This is the model that has been used in highly successful arena developments in Columbus and Los Angeles, among others.

    The benefit of planning an entire district, rather than just an arena, is that you can create an area that is active at all times of the day and week. We’re proposing offices, student housing and apartments, hotels, restaurants, shops and services. The mixture of uses will ensure that the arena is integrated into the life of downtown, as it will be a destination for more than just hockey games, concerts or other events.

    This is also an opportunity to tie into a lot of other revitalization efforts underway downtown, both in the sense of bringing additional vitality and economic activity to the area, but also in the sense that the site is within two blocks of the current retail core and financial district of the downtown. 104 Avenue and 101 Street are major public transit corridors. The LRT will be connected at the north end and, while the proposed LRT alignment on the south has yet to be confirmed, it appears that it will be no more than 1 block to the south.

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    Addicted to C2E

    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.

    ANSWER: I’m glad you brought up the Committee Lyle chaired. That committee – and its subcommittees -- included a number of very talented and dedicated people from across the community. In many ways, it’s the template for what we have proposed. I encourage everyone to read it if you haven’t already.

    A copy is available on our website at

    As for your question, all of the sites recommended by the Committee were considered. Each had advantages and disadvantages but when we weighed it all out, the proposed site was the best one for a number of reasons.

    With respect to Mr. Johns’ suggestion, we have to recognize that land assembly is a difficult business and usually requires a great deal of patience. The site we are proposing has the benefit of being composed of relatively large, assembled parcels of land. The location suggested by Mr. Johns has many more smaller parcels owned by multiple owners, and also has many more businesses currently in operation. Assembling land in that area could take years, if it were possible at all. So there is an aspect of practicality to selecting this site.

    Another advantage of the site we are proposing, however, is that we feel it is a natural outgrowth of the centre of downtown, filling in a gap of activity between the office towers, shopping and City Hall on the east, the growing residential and shopping area of 104 Street on the west, and the Central Macdougall neighbourhood to the north. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, it gives us proximity to the LRT, is within walking distance of ample parking and creates opportunities for pedestrian connections – at and above street level – to the rest of downtown.

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    Addicted to C2E

    Will you be making a push to rename the future MacEwan LRT station just like the U of A pushed to rename Bay Station?
    Good: LRT, Downtown, Post-Secondary Bad: Chronic Homeless People, Bad Spellers

    ANSWER: There have been no discussions in regards to naming the future LRT Station and it is not something we are considering at this time.

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    First One is Always Free

    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.

    ANSWER: As I’ve suggested in response to earlier questions, our intent is to create a District that is vibrant and active at different times of day, every day of the week, and in all seasons. This is good practice for any urban area in that the activity and diversity makes for a safer, more inviting and more interesting part of town. But it is particularly important for the Arena District. Residents and office workers will patronize the shops, services and restaurants of the District and support the area as an all-year destination. We want this area to offer a sense of excitement and activity, to be a real gathering place for Edmontonians and a natural part of our broader community, not just during hockey games and other arena events, but at other times as well.

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    Addicted to C2E
    Mr. Reality Check

    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?

    ANSWER: We are looking primarily at underground parking, but this will depend upon a final design, of course. If we do build any above grade parking, our intent is to design it to blend in as much as possible with surrounding development, and to keep the street active by wrapping parking with active uses at street level. In other words, if there is above grade parking, it will be very hard to distinguish it from the rest of the development.

    "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?

    ANSWER: There are a number of ways this can be done, but the concept is to make efficient use of the fact that different uses generate parking demand at different times of the day. The obvious example is the office tower parking that is full during the day and vacant in the evening, making this parking available for events at the arena. At this time, we have not worked out any details, however the zoning will allow us the opportunity to explore shared use parking with adjacent developments and property owners.

    "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?

    ANSWER: Our view is that the Winter Garden could significantly enhance the gateway identification. That’s one of key things we’ll be looking at as we advance this idea.

    We have been working with the City of Edmonton Planning and Development Department throughout the development of our submission, which included extensive discussions prior to making the official application. The City of Edmonton has helped to guide the process. Their review will undoubtedly result in further discussions in regards to the form of the final zoning proposal that we will take forward to City Council. We intend to continue working collaboratively with them to resolve any concerns.

    "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?

    ANSWER: The structure of our zoning proposal matches quite closely the level of detail and the design direction in the draft updates to the Downtown Special Area Zones, being revised as part of the update to the Capital City Downtown Plan. We believe that the language of the zone is strong enough to ensure a well-functioning Arena District while providing for quality public spaces and architecture. We are not looking to exclude the District from anything. References to zoning regulations prevailing over urban design guidelines are quite common in the Edmonton Zoning Bylaw.

    "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?

    ANSWER: Keep in mind that 65% is the minimum required by the proposed zone. It is definitely our interest to have commercial uses along 104 Avenue, but the busy traffic of 104 Avenue, as well as our intent to locate a major arena entrance on the north side of the street makes it a bit tougher to develop significant commercial activity here than on those streets identified in the zone.

    Although it would be very nice to see every street and avenue in downtown continuously lined with retail commercial activity it has to be realized that there are only so many locations where this is viable.. It is important to focus those uses where they will be most effective in creating the active pedestrian friendly environment we are all striving for . I would suggest that 102 and 103 Streets are more desirable and viable locations for this type of activity than a major traffic artery like 104 Avenue. However, having said this it is our intent to recognize the need for pedestrian connections along 104 Avenue and make it as active and pedestrian friendly as possible.

    “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)?

    ANSWER: As you know the zoning regulations are maximums and not necessarily the planned density. We will design to suit the project within the zoning regulations which may mean building to the maximum in some respects but not in others.

    “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)?

    ANSWER: The proposed FAR of 18.0 was taken from the August 2009 draft of the Capital City Downtown Plan, specifically the regulations for the Core Commercial Area Zone, which is the most similar zone to what we are proposing. Similarly, the August draft of the CCDP did not indicate any height limit for this area of the downtown. With the removal of the airport overlay, opportunities will open up for higher buildings throughout the downtown.

    “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.

    ANSWER: We agree that Public Art is an important component of the District.

    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.

    ANSWER: Thanks Ken. Public support is key to this happening. As we’ve said elsewhere, we think this is a great opportunity for Edmonton that can help revitalize downtown, change the way people look at the city and create some really compelling synergies with other exciting things happening in the city’s core, not the least of which is Qualico’s Epcor Tower and Stationlands project.

    We have said that this project has provoked one of the most important dialogues in the recent history of our City. You have asked a number of good and important questions and, as with all others who have participated in this forum, we have certainly welcomed your questions. It’s exchanges like this that help us refine our thinking and evolve our vision as we work towards outcomes that best serve all interests.

    really just cranky, miserable and disagreeable on principle but happy to have earned the title anyway; downtown arena fan; edmonton 2017 world's fair supporter.

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    Addicted to C2E

    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.

    ANSWER: Daryl has been and will continue to be a key component in the development of our overall vision and in working with our core team.

    "Ideas are bulletproof." - V for Vendetta

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    Addicted to C2E

    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 ??

    ANSWER: What you are describing in part is the normal nature of zoning. Every piece of land in the city is zoned and each zone has various uses and regulations. Not all zoned land is developed, nor is the developed land necessarily built to its maximum for all the uses allowed. What gets built is as dependent on market conditions as on what is allowed by zoning.

    The uses we are proposing in our zoning application are actually very similar to what’s already permitted by the current zone. The biggest difference is that the proposed zone would provide for the development of an arena. A wide variety of types of development are currently allowed to be built on these properties, but if you know the location, it is mostly just surface parking lots.

    We believe this District will work best as a package. By including all the various uses that we have proposed, we will be able to build a place that will be proudly enjoyed by all Edmontonians, and a place that visitors will talk about when they return home. So it is absolutely our hope to be able to construct the different elements that we are proposing in the zone.

    thank you for your time, James

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    Partially Addicted to C2E

    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.

    ANSWER: There is no one project that we’re using as a model because in order for this to succeed, it has to be about Edmonton and be integrated with our existing downtown and the spirit of our community. That said, we and others – such as the Mayor’s Leadership Committee and Dr. Mark Rosentraub, who wrote a paper for the committee – have looked at the success Columbus, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and San Diego, among others, have had in revitalizing their urban cores through the development of vibrant mixed-used districts centred around entertainment and sports venues. AEG, as you may know, has participated in more of these kinds of developments around the world than any other company I know of. They are a key part of our team helping us develop something that will work for Edmonton.

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    First One is Always Free

    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??

    ANSWER: The more that can be built together to create a critical mass for the District the better, but the market will influence the pace of development.

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    First One is Always Free

    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?

    ANSWER: We are not copying or importing the Winter Garden concept from anywhere. This concept has evolved from addressing the issue of moving people across 104 Avenue in a safe and efficient manner. We looked at various options including an underground connection, an at grade crossing, as well as different forms of above grade connections. The above grade connection, in addition to solving the problem of crossing 104 Avenue provided a variety of other opportunities that would enable the creation of a more desirable, open and active space. This space will serve as not only an entrance to the arena but also as a connection to LRT, the hotel/casino area, and as a connection to the area north of 105 Avenue. It will also provide an opportunity for programmable activities and events from lunch time entertainment to All-Star Game or Stanley Cup celebrations. (See above: developers by nature are optimists!) All of this would take place in a climate controlled environment that acknowledges the nature of Edmonton as a winter city.

    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?

    ANSWER: The rendering I think you’re referring to was highly conceptual; I wouldn’t read too much into it. I can tell you that we do not envision the Winter Garden being one block wide. But yes, how we treat the space underneath is a critical design challenge that we have to get right, which at a minimum means making sure it’s attractive and animated.

    We are very conscious of the condition you are describing and recognize that it has to be treated carefully. We can’t specify details at this time but a lot of attention will need to be paid to creating a desirable environment for continuous pedestrian connections along 104 Avenue and alleviating the potential negative impacts that you are describing. Creative design and architectural treatment will be required.

    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.

    ANSWER: We’re not far enough along in the design process to give you a specific answer, but as described above we will have to be very sensitive to this issue.

    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.)

    ANSWER: The majority of the urban design regulations in our proposed zone apply to the entire District, not just particular streets, so I think we definitely have a comprehensive approach to ensuring that the District, including 104 Avenue, functions well for future residents and users of its spaces. The regulations referring to minimum percentages of active frontages (i.e. retail or service uses with doors on the street) do not apply specifically to 104 Avenue, you are correct. As I mentioned in response to an earlier question, different streets function differently and therefore, it may not be viable to provide active frontages along all streets in the District.

    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.

    ANSWER: As discussed above, these are all fair points and valid concerns that we are going to take great care to address in the design process. We absolutely don’t want to create a dark or uninviting underpass. But we also don’t want the kind of barren (and cold) bridge that currently crosses 118 Avenue, or just a conventional Pedway bridge.

    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.

    ANSWER: I couldn’t agree more, and can assure you that our vision is to create not only good urban design but also an iconic landmark image that Edmonton will be recognized for and all Edmontonians will be proud of.

    Again, I look forward to your reply.

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    Addicted to C2E

    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?

    ANSWER: The Winter Garden grew out of the need to safely and efficiently carry thousands of people across 104 Avenue without impairing the traffic flow on a major arterial route. It became clear to us that we needed some kind of bridge to achieve that. The Winter Garden was an elegant and creative way to maximize the potential of that walkway, while also creating a unique space that celebrates Edmonton as a winter city and can help build community through public events, concerts, exhibits and other kinds of programs like a winter farmers’ market as I discussed in my post yesterday.

    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.

    ANSWER: You are right about the word “district” – that’s our intent – and the “district” is the full 16 acre mixed-use area. The Winter Garden, which is only one component, is a key element that connects the various pieces, draws people in and connects them to the arena, the LRT, the rest of downtown or towards the MacEwan campus. But yes, it has to be done right and creating a mall is exactly what we don’t want to do.
    __________________ |

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    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?

    ANSWER: 104 Avenue is currently a real barrier between downtown and the neighbourhoods to the north, and we hope to bridge that, literally, with the Winter Garden, as well as bring active uses to it at street level. The District will fill a gap of activity between 104 Street on the west and 101 Street on the east, helping to knit these areas together.

    The District will also connect directly with the planned MacEwan LRT Station, with the 105 Avenue Multi-Use Trail Corridor for cyclists and pedestrians, and will provide ample sidewalks on all streets which are inviting and full of people at all times of day. We are very conscious of the new Downtown Plan and believe our concept incorporates many of the Plan’s principles.

    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

    ANSWER: I know…we’re working on it.

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    Addicted to C2E

    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?

    ANSWER: For us it is not a question of choosing the Winter Garden or an active street environment. We believe that, with the large numbers of people attending events at the arena, we will need both and will be able to make both successful. We have not included 104 Avenue in the regulations requiring 65% active frontages, not because we don’t intend to activate that street with shops and services, but because it is a street with a different character and function than the rest. The main street level entrance to the arena is envisioned on the north side of 104 Avenue, so this will take up a significant amount of frontage. While 102 and 103 Streets will be almost entirely developed with shops, restaurants and services at ground level, 104Avenue will have the arena entrance on the north in the centre of the development, a more residential character at the western end where we envision student housing and community uses, hotels and the casino at the eastern end near 101 Street, and commercial uses and Winter Garden accesses on the southern side of the avenue. And of course it is a much busier street from a traffic perspective. So 104Avenue is a more varied and complex façade that we didn’t feel we could reasonably develop active frontage regulations for at this stage.

    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?

    ANSWER: Developments such as City Centre are inward facing above grade, as you would of course expect, but were also not designed to properly address the street at ground level. Most of the shops which were given doors on the street a few years back do not even use them now because these were grafted on and the primary function of the mall is still from the internal corridor. But while the Winter Garden is an above grade concept, the street level in the Arena District will have a different and very active character which addresses the street directly, with store fronts on the street rather than being oriented towards internal corridors. We don’t think the Winter Garden and street level activity are mutually exclusive propositions so long as we design the District for both from the very start.

    Semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit.

    ************************************************** *************
    Sonic Death Monkey
    Addicted to C2E

    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?

    ANSWER: At this stage we’ve focused on working with Icon and others to define the specs of the arena rather than the design. But I agree with you, Columbus is a great venue. We will have pedestrian-friendly features but exactly how and where they are incorporated is subject to a phase of design we haven’t quite reached yet.

    p.s. to answer your question from yesterday, the "18,000 seats" was derived from prior media reports.
    I've lived in the downtown area for nearly 20 years.
    Never been assaulted. Never been mugged. Never been raped. Never been murdered.

    ************************************************** *************
    First One is Always Free

    Hi Mr. Low,
    Thank you so much for your interest in helping inform everyone on this super project.

    There is one question I have, please clarify one of your answers from Wednesday: "...The advantage of the downtown location is there are over 12,000 parking spaces within a 10 minute walking distance of the site. These are mostly used during the day and could be used for arena events, which mostly take place at night."

    Will the Arena parking strategy affect the Arts District parking during Citadel and Winspear performances during evenings, as traditionally, performances approximately start at 7:30 pm? My experience with parking in the Arts District location during Citadel and Winspear performances is the parking (in City Hall parkade, Citadel/Library parkade, Canada Place Parkade, etc) is mostly filled up in the evenings. Please clarify if the Arts District parking had been considered in your plans.

    ANSWER: There is enough distance between the Arts District and our proposed Arena District that there should not be a great deal of competition for parking between the two. There are numerous existing parking lots and parkades in the 102nd and 103rd Street area that will support arena uses. The arena itself will also provide additional parking. However, we will complete a detailed review and parking strategy as we progress.

    Thank you in advance for your reply!
    Edmonton is a diverse landscape of business and culture in a natural rivervalley setting
    Lead, Planning & Development, Edmonton Arena District


    • #3
      Thank you,
      I appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions.
      Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.


      • #4
        Thank you for all your responses, Jim.
        "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.


        • #5
          Thanks, Jim. Greatly appreciated.
          you missed when time and life shook hands and said goodbye.