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Old Posted Mar 17, 2012, 6:03 PM
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Originally Posted by McC View Post
For me, the big thing with locating the casino downtown (which is a different issue from the issues associated with having a casino anywhere, Reid) is that I cannot think of any examples of a successful downtown casino, from an urban design perspective, i.e. one that contributes life to the urban area, rather than sucking it in.

Consider the way people complain about Rideau Centre being inward-looking and ruining the downtown shopping experience on Rideau Street, well the examples of Casinos that I know are much, much worse for their closed-off inward-orientation.

Does that mean that a downtown casino HAS to be another bad, anti-urban, life-sucker? no. But the fact that the only examples i can think of (e.g. Windsor) are exactly that, is a very bad sign for Ottawa. Why? Because if a downtown Ottawa Casino is going to have better results than the average experience elsewhere, then it would have to be EXCEPTIONALLY-well designed. Ottawa does do a lot of things well, but bucking trends and delivering exceptionally-well-designed anythings on the first try is not one of them. When Ottawa is doing something new, AVERAGE is usually the best we can hope for. (big note, that does not mean that AVERAGE is all we can EVER hope for, look at new/contemporary downtown condos, the level of design and competition among developers is increasing at a nice clip, but the early ones? yeesh! "average" might be paying them a compliment!).

So I don't think we can expect our first downtown casino to be an exceptional design, and chances are there will only be one casino, and that it will be big; therefore, if it is a failure from an urban design / downtown life perspective, it will be a BIG failure. Ottawa's downtown isn't so large, dense and vibrant that it can support many big failures (and we already have many to overcome: west end of Sparks Street and the generally sub-par mega-block developments to the south of it, LeBreton Flats, closed-off NAC, cut-off waterfronts, and some would ague that lifeless federal buildings on Confederation Boul, Federal parks/squares and the Rideau Centre belong on this list too... etc.)
Caesars casino has actually been good for downtown Windsor, maybe not everything they hoped it would be, but it has helped with bringing in more foot traffic to the core. It has a huge convention centre, one of the largest in Canada, and the Colosseum has attracted many large shows and concerts, which has a spillover effect in the downtown.

It's true that most casino's are designed to keep people shut out of the surrounding area, but if there are attractions in the area, some folks will check out what's around. The casino has been very good for our city, and hopefully the one in Ottawa will be a great asset as well.
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