Lansdowne 2.0’s Revised Proposal: Price Tag Surges to $419M with Changes in Design

Lansdowne 2.0's Revised Proposal: Price Tag Surges to $419M with Changes in Design
The latest vision for Lansdowne Park, presented Friday, includes two residential towers instead of three, and no more green roof atop the relocated arena. City council will vote on the plan next month.

The latest vision of the controversial Lansdowne 2.0 project, in partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), unveils a series of design changes and a steep rise in the project’s cost.

Significant Changes Announced

The city and OSEG have disclosed a revamp of the initially proposed Lansdowne 2.0 project, which now features a heftier price tag. The project’s cost has skyrocketed from the previously estimated $332 million to $419 million. This increment has been attributed to rising inflation, interest rates, and other market conditions like supply chain disruptions and increased construction material and labour costs.

Residential Changes and Green Spaces

A notable alteration in the proposal is the reduction of highrise towers from three to two. While the initial vision catered to 1,200 residential units, the new design will have a maximum of 770 units housed in towers of 40 and 25 storeys. Alongside the residential downsizing, the redesigned proposal introduces 27,900 square feet of new public realm space, not part of the original plan.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe expressed support for these changes, emphasizing that it will ensure the new development doesn’t overshadow the iconic Aberdeen Pavilion while also increasing available public space.

Affordable Housing Reimagined

The revamped plan highlighted a shift in the city’s approach to affordable housing. Instead of integrating affordable units within the project, an equivalent value will be channeled into a reserve fund, aimed at financing affordable units in other locations across the city. This decision has sparked diverse reactions from various stakeholders.

Financial Implications and Challenges

The executive summary of the report promises a fiscally responsible phase, though it dropped the term “revenue neutral” from its modified plans. This project will be partially financed through air rights for the new residential towers, prospective government funding, and a significant amount from new debt, which surpasses $310 million. Deputy city treasurer, Isabelle Jasmin, noted that the city’s commitment stands at $5 million annually for debt servicing, a commitment extending over the next four decades.

A drone view of the Rideau Canal and Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on June 13, 2023.

State of the Existing Arena and New Developments

Mayor Sutcliffe stressed the urgency of moving ahead with the Lansdowne 2.0 project. He highlighted the deteriorating state of the existing Arena at TD Place, plagued by problems like mould, leaks, and accessibility issues. Leaving these issues unaddressed could end up costing the city around $400 million or more.

While many facets of the project saw revisions, the event centre’s plans remained relatively unchanged. However, the cost to construct it surged from $183.5 million to $249.6 million. Initially, the arena’s design was set to blend with the Great Lawn seamlessly, featuring a green roof. The latest update presents a stark white roof, deemed more feasible and cost-effective.

Mixed Feedback from Stakeholders

The new Lansdowne 2.0 proposal has been a hot topic, receiving a mixed bag of feedback. Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard remains a vocal critic, particularly concerned about the affordable housing aspect. He believes that the amount pledged for building affordable housing elsewhere may not result in a substantial number of units.

While critics emphasize reconsidering the project’s financial feasibility, Mark Goudie, president and CEO of OSEG, remains steadfast in his support, stating, “We need to finish the work we started.”

Next Steps for the Proposal

The amended Lansdowne 2.0 proposal is set to undergo scrutiny from various committees at city hall, with the final vote slated for Nov. 10.