Construction could disrupt 2010 hockey tourney

BOB MACKIN, 24 HOURS

, Last Updated: 6:29 AM ET

Francesco Aquilini wants to build a 22-storey office tower connected to General Motors Place. But nobody involved in the application to city hall is eager to say when construction could begin.

Such a project could pose transportation, logistics and security challenges at the main venue of the 2010 Winter Olympics' hockey tournament. The proposed site at the corner of Griffiths Way and Expo Boulevard is currently GM Place's service and broadcast entrance.

Architect Peter Busby, property marketer Don Vassos of CB Richard Ellis and Aquilini spokesman Norman Stowe have not answered 24 hours' requests for the project's proposed timeline. Vancouver's Olympic organizers did not respond to a request for comment.

VANOC paid $18.9 million for venue improvements in late June and is leasing the venue for almost $4 million in 2010.

The arena, which opened in 1995, was originally zoned to include a commercial tower. The development opportunity was a factor in real estate magnate Aquilini's controversial 2004 purchase of a 50 per cent stake in the arena and the Vancouver Canucks.

Closing arguments in Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie's lawsuit contesting Aquilini's deal with John McCaw begin Sept. 24. The trial could resume sooner if Texas data analysts find new evidence from Aquilini's computer records.


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