Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lake Placid Investments Inc. proposal for River Landing Parcel “Y” in Saskatoon “falls short of requirements”

A report by the city manager included in City Council’s April 16, 2007, meeting agenda (Item F2 - River Landing Hotel/Residential Site) states:
Administration has consulted with Gwyn Symmons of CitySpaces Consulting Ltd., the author of the South Downtown Concept Plan. In a memo dated April 3, 2007, (Attachment 2) Mr. Symmons notes that:

“The rationale for a hotel was the role it could play in bringing activity to the area late into the evening through all the seasons; reinforcing it as a this stage, we would encourage Council to make a further effort to attract a hotel development for the site.”

Mr. Symmons further notes that:

“We would suggest that Council consider indicating a preference for some form of spa rather than mandating it. Additionally, they might request proponents identify any alternative to a spa that they think might assist in making this location a destination to the public but that would be consistent with the balance of River Landing.”

As such, Administration is recommending that the City re-market Parcel “Y” to potential developers using the original vision consisting of a hotel, restaurant, residential, retail, and a spa or destination facility. For clarity, a spa can be a publicly accessible geothermal spa or mineral water spa. However, Administration agrees that a spa is just one of many concepts that could serve as a destination attraction and is recommending that the provision of a spa be broadened to include other publicly accessible destination attractions allowed under DCD1 guidelines. A destination attraction’s purpose is more clearly defined under “Permitted Uses” within the DCD1 guidelines: “to build on the Downtown’s role as the cultural heart of the city by the development of cultural facilities which can improve economic prospects and encourage tourism”. Suggested uses include, but are not limited to, interpretive centres, theatres, museums, and art galleries.

Proponents will be instructed that City Council’s preference is for a publicly accessible spa. A destination attraction is suggested as a potential alternative, and will be evaluated accordingly.
It is clear that the City considers a “destination attraction” on Parcel “Y” to be very important. The purpose of a spa was to act as a “destination attraction”. City Council ultimately withdrew the idea of a spa but the fact remains the City feels a “destination attraction” is a critical element of the parcel’s development.

The Expressions of Interest (EOI) issued by the City in May 2007 called for a “destination attraction/gathering place”. It is a Priority 1 Essential Element and must be in the proposal. Unfortunately, it appears that the proposal submitted by Lake Placid Investments Inc. does not contain the required “destination attraction.” In accepting the proposal it is felt that the City has irreparably comprised the integrity of its EOI/RFP process.

The following letter to the editor on the matter was published in the StarPhoenix:

Proposal for River Landing falls short of requirements

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In Can we live with proposal? (SP, Sept. 19) civic affairs columnist Gerry Klein overlooked some important details about the Lake Placid proposal for River Landing.

The “expressions of interest” issued by the city required a destination attraction/gathering place. The EOI stated: “A destination attraction's purpose is more clearly defined under permitted uses within the DCD1 guidelines: To build on the downtowns role as the cultural heart of the city by the development of cultural facilities which can improve economic prospects and encourage tourism.”

The public component of Lake Placids proposal consists of a raised plaza that includes a skating rink in the winter and a water pond/wading pool in the summer. A waterfall is also proposed. These are not cultural facilities and do not constitute the required destination attraction.

Furthermore, it appears that the proposed uses are not permitted under the DCD1 zoning for the area. These regulations state the only permitted uses are interpretive centres, theatres, heritage facilities, museums, art galleries, amphitheatres, display space, events programming, tour offices, box offices and public institutional offices.

Another important factor is development and management experience. The EOI states: “Proponents are required to provide a description of projects the company has developed and/or managed over the past 10 years. Experience in the type of development envisaged on the subject parcel (hotel, residential, retail, restaurant, destination attraction) is particularly important to note.”

Lake Placid builds condominiums. What experience does it have developing and/or managing destination attractions and hotels?

It appears the companys proposal should not have gone beyond the EOI stage, yet city administration gave it a passing grade anyway. Why?

Equally disturbing is that city council did not review, evaluate or even see any of the EOIs. Its time for some answers.

Joe Kuchta

©The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007


At 3:17 AM, Blogger Job Descriptions said...

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