Game on for new arena plan

CLARA HO, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

The Katz Group is positive it can have shovels in the ground for a new downtown arena and entertainment district by 2012, finishing the project by mid-2014.

But city officials say the review of the application -- submitted to the city Monday -- could take more than a year, with public consultations and meetings eating up time and city council making the final decision.

After unveiling its plan for a downtown arena in February, the Katz Group officially filed its application Monday, with the group's vice-president Bob Black calling it "an important milestone" culminating 18 months of work.

The application, which cost about $70,000 to file, indicates that the "mixed-use district" will take up 16 acres of land north and south of 104 Avenue between 101 Street and 104 Street, currently occupied by the Baccarat Casino and several parking lots.

The "pedestrian-friendly" development will also consist of a multi-purpose sports and entertainment complex, a winter garden, and residential, retail, service and office buildings -- including a possible 60-storey structure -- and about 4,000 parking stalls.

The application seeks to rezone the area to accommodate the arena, amend the existing downtown plan, and close off a small piece of roadway, as well as a small area of land designated for park use.

Jim Low, Katz Group's head of planning and development for the Edmonton Arena District, said the project will not take away business from other downtown establishments; instead it will bring an estimated two million more patrons to the area annually.

The Katz Group said it would like to start construction on the project in 2012 and have it finished by 2014.

The group wants to lead development of the project, with Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment developer AEG as a consultant.

Black also confirmed that Northlands will play a role in the project, though that role has not been determined.

Spokesman Brian Leadbetter said Northlands -- which runs Rexall Place -- hopes to be in a "unique place to be the operator (of) the new Edmonton downtown arena."

No updated dollar figures were available Monday, though Black estimated the private sector development would be about $1 billion.

In February, the Katz Group estimated the project could cost close to $1.5 billion, with the city borrowing $400 million to build the arena and gaining that money back from tax revenues from the surrounding developments.

Daryl Katz, who runs the Katz Group, has pledged $100 million toward the project.

Gary Klassen, Edmonton's general manager of planning and development, said the city will spend the next day or two vetting the submission.

An internal and external review of the application will take place at a later date.

City administration will also have to see how the application fits with the city's downtown plan, and make a recommendation to council.

The application does not commit the city to the project.


Videos

Photos