As deal between the City of Calgary and Flames Ownership for the city’s new event center failed due to rising costs, questions arise over the future of the city’s Rivers neighborhood and improvements underway from Stampede Park.
It was announced on Tuesday that the deal between the city and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) had collapsed due to rising costs on top of the building’s increased price of $ 634 million, more than the $ 608 million planned for July.
In back-to-back press conferences on Wednesday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek and CSEC President and CEO John Bean disagreed on which organization should be responsible for the costs associated with the infrastructure around the building. and climate mitigation works on its roof.
Both were on a list of more than 70 conditions attached to the approval of the project’s development permit by the city’s planning commission.
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Under the restructured deal for the Flames’ new home, CSEC had agreed to cover any “reasonable” additional cost overruns in exchange for a larger contribution than the City of Calgary to finance the building, after that it was revealed that the city could not cover its half of the price tag due to the project budget overrun.
The event center, along with the BMO Center expansion and Stampede Trail project, were to be the centerpiece of the Rivers District master plan; a 50-year plan to revitalize the east end of the city’s downtown core between the MacLeod Trail, the CP Rail line, the Stampede Grounds and the Elbow River.
The plan, currently being undertaken by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), includes a mix of residential and commercial buildings centered around a new entertainment district.
According to David Low, executive director of the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area, the loss of the event center is a missed opportunity for the area’s long-term vision.
“I think we’re losing a lot of the grand prize: which is to become in the top tier in North America in terms of cultural and entertainment districts,” Low told Global News. “It could have been the anchor for it.”
The event center was also seen as an anchor for Calgary’s construction industry.
The Calgary Construction Association (CCA) said it expects the event center project to generate 4,500 jobs during construction.
“You’re talking about thousands of jobs,” CCA President Bill Black said. “There are companies that have been sitting for five years or more with a really tough construction economy, and they need these anchor projects. “
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Meanwhile, work continues on the BMO expansion as well as the Stampede Trail, which would connect 17 Avenue SE to Olympic Way SE and is designated to become a place for local and independent retailers, while also serving as a festival street which may be closed to vehicles. circulation.
The project is being completed in conjunction with BMO’s $ 500 million expansion project with a completion date of 2024.
CMLC said it shares disappointment at the failure of the arena deal and will consider the impact of the loss of the event center on the Rivers District overall plan.
“As the next steps are discussed among the partners, CMLC will assess the impact on the district plan,” CMLC President and CEO Kate Thompson said in a statement to Global News. “Our commitment to the long-term global vision remains unwavering. “
A commitment to the rest of the Rivers District plan is welcomed by Black, who described the surrounding structures and renovations as a halo effect for the industry.
“It will not only contribute to job and job and business opportunities,” Black said. “But will also help shape how Calgary has to compete to attract talent, business and private investment.”
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Ultimately, Low said he continued to hope that the two sides of the regional deal could find common ground on the center of the event.
Although he believes the Rivers District plan will continue to move forward, Low said losing the center of the event was a setback.
“It’s the cumulative and additive impact of everything we do that will make it great,” Low said. “It’s just going to make it a little harder to achieve that vision.”
Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley told Global News in a statement that the news is disappointing, but he remains excited about the future of Rivers District master plan developments.
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