Lansdowne Park plans revealed

DEREK PUDDICOMBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Lansdowne Park's :dreary stretch of asphalt: could soon be transformed into a sprawling "front lawn" with a "village"-style atmosphere.

City councillors will be presented Wednesday with the latest incarnation of a local business group's plan for the 44-acre site along the Rideau Canal.

The Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group, which consists of developers John Ruddy, Roger Greenberg and Bill Shenkman, and Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt, has been working with city staff to refine their plan for the park.

In addition to a total facelift for Frank Clair Stadium, the plan includes creating several shops and bistros within the Aberdeen Pavillion and a large strip of parkland that stretches the entire length of the park along the canal.

A news release the city is expected to distribute Wednesday morning says more than 40% of Lansdowne Park will be greenspace.

"This new 'front lawn' area, no longer an asphalt parking lot, but replete with parkland and pedestrian and cycling paths, will feature cafes, an outdoor concert hall and patio decks," the release says.

The city is also looking for permission from Parks Canada to build two docks that will allow boaters on the canal to moor.

The first phase of the ambitious $250-million project -- which, if approved, is expected to be completed in time to field a CFL team in 2012 -- also includes the construction of 1,100 underground parking spots and 408,000 sq. ft. of retail space along Bank St. and Holmwood Ave.

The property will lose about 1,000 parking spots, but the city plans to rely on visitors using public transit.

"This is an exciting way to recreate the jewel of the city," Mayor Larry O'Brien said Tuesday.

O'Brien said there won't be any big-box stores. He also said the site could include a movie theatre.

"This has to be a gathering spot for citizens," he said.

O'Brien said a section of the greenspace might not actually be real grass, but could be an artificial, hardened surface that could serve as a parking lot if need be. In the case of large events the greenspace could then be used for parking upwards of 300 cars.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans doesn't think the public will embrace the design because there's more housing and retail than in the previous plan.

Bay Coun. Alex Cullen said the lack of parking is problematic. "It fails on first principle. For a 26,000-seat stadium, there is no parking to speak of and no access to rapid transit," he said.

The second phase of the plan includes the construction of a small "boutique" hotel and residential and office space.

Part of Bank St. would also be transformed, with trees lining the front of the park, lighting that matches the recently refurbished Bank St. Bridge, and wider sidewalks.

The city has been advised to create the Municipal Services Corporation to manage the operation of the park. The corporation, similar to the Ottawa Airport Authority, would have an independent board of directors. If council agrees, the corporation would split the $250-million investment with OSEG and enter into a 30-year lease agreement with

the group. The city says there would be no additional burden on taxpayers.

Under the Lansdowne Partnership Plan agreement, OSEG would also provide a fund to ensure the upkeep of the park.

Council is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to send the proposal to the next stage, which is public consultations.

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Highlights of the proposal

  • The Aberdeen Pavilion will become the centrepiece of Lansdowne's transformation.
  • Lansdowne's new "front lawn" along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway will allow for all-season events, including Winterlude and Tulip Festival events.
  • There will be no big-box stores.
  • Lansdowne's numerous indoor and outdoor spaces will be upgraded to better accommodate community groups.
  • A revitalized Lansdowne Park will feature a vibrant, "boutique-focused" and pedestrian-centric retail sector.

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