Posted by the EFCL on June 15:
More Money needed for Community Connections: As impressive and comprehensive as the development is – and it is both of those things - stakeholders at a recent presentation on the downtown arena left with one big question unanswered.
Where is the money going to come from to pay for all of the features the developer has in mind?
This question reared its ugly head when it was revealed, almost at the end of the presentation, that the $450 million budgeted for the project would only cover the arena and underground parking.
All of the features that would help connect the project to the community – including the “Winter Garden” area and 104 Avenue pedway overpass, a community ice rink, a 24-hour pedestrian corridor and connection to an adjacent LRT station and an open air plaza south of 104 Avenue will have to be funded separately.
This will bring the total bill for the project to $532 million – not including the plaza. Representatives of nearby community leagues, among other stakeholders, found this news to be quite disturbing, as it was felt that these features were critical to the success of the venture. In fact, Scott Ralston of 360 Architecture – the company designing the facility – openly acknowledged that the development would not work as planned without the extra dollars. For example, he said his company would have to “redo the plan” if the community ice rink was not funded. “We don’t know what the replacement would be (in that space).”
Stakeholders were informed that the design would be presented to city council for ratification on July 4. Another meeting will be held shortly thereafter to refine a community benefits agreement, which the city is putting together with area residents and organizations. This may include a residential parking plan, a local hiring policy (to build and run the arena), and formation of a committee to deal with any noise, litter, parking or crime issues that accompany the use of the arena.