Downtown revitalization has $2.37 million price tag

Project is aimed at re-developing the downtown core, specifically in the special commercial area

A city project to transform the downtown core is estimated to cost more than $2 million.

Jason Hartley, the city’s capital works manager, said in a report to council that the Downtown Revitalization Project “is currently budgeted at a total cost of $2.37 million with existing funds identified in the approved 2012 Capital Plan in the Water, Sewer and General Capital Reserve funds.”

However, that figure is not finalized as the city still has to account for enhanced surface works, such as expanding pedestrian space and connecting City Hall to the waterfront.

The Downtown Revitalization Project is aimed at re-developing the downtown core, specifically in the special commercial area defined by Alder Street from 10th Avenue and St. Ann’s Road, Beech and Dubeau Streets and the section of St. Ann’s Road from Alder Street to Shoppers Row. The special commercial area status gives developers in the area a tax break on new or re-developments.

The city has hired urban planning firm Dialog to develop a concept design for the surface works.

The four areas the company and the city are focusing on are: connecting the waterfront and Robert Ostler Park to City Hall park space; designing shared public, private and multi function spaces; animating the public realm; and improving pedestrian space. The concept calls for more pedestrian space along Alder Street in front of Scotiabank, turning Dubeau Street (the lane behind Shoppers Row) into a pedestrian boulevard and transforming parking spaces into public spaces such as farmers markers.

The detailed design of the project is expected to be completed March 19, 2013 and the construction portion of the project awarded to the successful bidder by April 30.

Construction is expected to be completed Oct. 30.

But the city will have its work cut out for it, as aging infrastructure will have to be replaced.

“The condition of all the city’s utilities has been assessed and it has been determined that the water, sewer and storm in this area are requiring of replacement due to deteriorated condition,” Hartley said in his report. “It has also been determined that the existing ground conditions are poor, resulting in requirement for complete reconstruction of sub grade structural soils.”

The city held an open house Dec. 3 to gather public input into the project.

“Comments received were generally in support of the project proceeding with acknowledgement of the need to find the balance between form of the space and the functional aspects of activities that occur in this precinct,” Hartley said.

The city’s project is adjacent to the new headquarters building being constructed by Seymour Pacific, which prompted the city to accelerate its St.Ann’s block project to coincide with Seymour Pacific’s construction.