According to architect Norm Hoston, the Lansdowne Live redevelopment plan is not providing any added benefits to make up for the loss of public space.
“It seems to me that if you are going to give up what has been for decades a major public place in the city, there has to be a tremendous benefit back to the public,” said Hoston.
Councillor Rick Chiarelli and Kevin McCrann, a partner in the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, disputed Hoston’s comments stating that the proposal does in fact benefit the public.
“We’re losing something that is 85 per cent crumbly parking lot,” said Chiarelli. “I don’t see that we’re losing anything. We’re not giving it up. The city retains ownership in 30 years.”
However, the city needs to compensate for the development via tax revenue from the commercial components in the plan. Hence, different retail elements are being entertained.
McCran states that a “front lawn,” or gathering place is ideal for the public to congregate prior to and after a game at the stadium. “Our hope and desire is that it becomes the public place it deserves to be.”
Hoston feels that the developers should pay out-of-pocket to renovate the stadium, disagreeing with the fact that the city should shell out the $150 million. “That’s a measurable public benefit. You’d have to see things like new cultural venues, or something you wouldn’t normally achieve in a city very easily,” he stated.
“The privatization of public space would be the thing I would be most concerned about,” he said. “The fact that you’ve got private interests coming in to what has historically been a fully public place and bringing new uses like the semi-big-box kind of thing and the introduction of private residential use. In terms of the big picture, I could see that as being almost the deal-breaker.”
McCrann disagrees, stating that the retailers will be “unique to Ottawa.” He thinks that pushing ideas of a high-end grocery and food store, like Whole Foods, and a movie theatre is “greatly desired” by the community.
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