BY RICHARD GILBERT - The plan for the revitalization of downtown Edmonton has secured a long-term source of project funding, as a result of a new joint initiative between the city and the provincial government.
“By approving the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), the Government of Alberta is showing its commitment to helping Edmonton build a stronger downtown,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson.
“The CRL is a vital piece in implementing the catalyst projects outlined in the city’s award-winning downtown plan. We’ve seen that investments in public infrastructure encourage growth, and using that strategy, Edmonton is dedicated to building a vibrant capital city.”
The Alberta government granted final approval for the CRL Plan and Bylaw on April 16, 2014.
The bylaw was initially approved last year by Edmonton City Council and the provincial government to help cities and towns stimulate business activity and economic growth in under-developed areas.
The CRL will provide up to 20 years of stable financing for the construction of 10 development projects, which are outlined in the Capital City Downtown CRL plan.
The plan identifies key catalyst projects, which are initiatives designed to increase the number of people living downtown, while strengthening neighbourhoods and improving transportation linkages.
The phase 1 projects that will be undertaken as a first priority include Rogers Place arena and related infrastructure, increasing the capacity of the sewer system, Jasper Avenue revitalization, park development and increased walkability.
PCL officially started construction on a new $600 million stadium in Edmonton in early March.
The first phase of the Rogers Arena project is underway, which involves excavating soil for the underground parkade and installing concrete piles.
The City of Edmonton and the Katz Group reached a $480 million agreement for construction of the arena.
The company is controlled by Daryl Katz, who is the owner of the Edmonton Oilers.
As part of the deal, the Katz Group pledged $100 million to the project and the city raised $250 million.
Another $100 million would come from the provincial or federal government.
The peak workforce at any given time could reach as many as 500 tradespeople.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2016 for the opening of the National Hockey League (NHL) season.
The downtown arena building project will replace Rexall Place, which was built in 1974. It is currently one of the oldest and smallest facilities in the NHL.
Northlands, owners and operators of Rexall Place, commissioned a study by the architectural firm HOK Sports in 2007, which estimated the cost of modernizing Rexall Place at $250 million.
The Rogers Arena project also involves the construction of four other components: a community rink; winter garden; light rapid transit connection; and pedestrian access way.
The total cost of the project will be about $606.5 million. The redevelopment of the area around the new arena building is expected to include residential development, retail and office space, hotels and restaurants.
The stormwater drainage project will improve combined sanitary sewer performance, while handling additional sanitary flow and stormwater runoff resulting from future redevelopment.
It will reduce the frequency of basement and surface flooding within the CRL Area and reduce the risk of combined sewer overflow to the North Saskatchewan River.
Phase I of this project will include tunneling of a major backbone stormwater pipe north along 105 Street.
The CRL is not a new or additional tax on existing property owners in the area.
It is a way municipalities can dedicate future property tax revenue to pay for new public infrastructure.
A baseline for assessed property values within the CRL area will be set as of December 31, 2014.
Any increase in assessed property values above the baseline will be collected and applied towards the payments for infrastructure investment in the CRL area as redevelopment occurs over the next 20 years.
The city estimates the Capital City Downtown CRL will generate sufficient revenue over its 20 year life to fund about $500 million in new infrastructure downtown.