Sudbury Council explores Project Now alternative to Kingsway Entertainment District with promised $40 million savings

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Greater Sudbury City Council has taken a closer look at Project Now, a proposed downtown sports arena renovation being developed by Sudbury architect 3rdLine Studio. The organizers say they are promising $40 million in savings compared to the planned Kingsway Entertainment District.

A Sudbury News story says that Tim James and Angele Dmytruk of 3rdLine Studio met with the council virtually and gave them an in-depth look at the plan and took questions from the mayor and the council.

The council liked the design and the concept put together by the Project Now team but there were a few questions that needed to be answered.

“In the build, it’s anywhere from $55 to $60 million but then there’s also a parking structure that would run anywhere around $30 million,” said Ward 1 Councillor Mark Signorett. “If you’re adding the two together, you’re up to $90 million. I know there’s been some comments that maybe right now we don’t need a parking structure.”

Tim James from 3rdLine Studio explained to councillors that the parking structure was not a core component to the project and explained that it would cost close to $35 million, with $18 million accounting for the parking structure and $17 million allocated to attached commercial space.

If the strategy is to save $40 million, then it is important to recognize that existing parking in the downtown core off peak hours is sufficient to support the event centre and could save that $40 million.

3rdLine Studio’s Tim James said that 3rdLine has looked into the geotechnical aspects of the renovation.  He said sensitive soil conditions exist throughout much of the city’s downtown. His company understands how to work with both shallow and deep foundations and suggested that it was routine to have detailed geotechnical investigations completed before the construction of any large building.

Ward 11 Counsellor Bill Leduc asked about the state of the arena’s roof, which city staff had recommended was in need of a $360,000 repair.

James said that they would be looking to addressing all components of the arena and that they would look into re-roofing and ensuring that the existing structure, where required, was enhanced and reinforced.

There is also an issue in that hosting large events would be a problem due to the fact that the steel girders are 45 feet high but slope to 32 feet at the ice rink boards and 45 feet would be needed all the way across the building.

“We have anticipated a maximum of $100 million for this project, but it’s more likely closer to $80 million if not less,” said Ward 5 Councillor Robert Kirwan. “We focused a lot on the savings of $40 million. We don’t know if it’s going to be $40 million and in actual fact, it may be $20 million.”

“The downtown renovation is probably going to require $3 million a year in debt financing and that’s fine. Even if the arena on The Kingsway was $100 million that would result in a debt financing of about $5 million a year. However, it’s being built as part of a hotel and casino complex and they’re going to generate about $3 million in additional tax revenue, so the net cost to build new on The Kingsway is going to be about $2 million to the tax levy and that doesn’t count any additional tax revenue to the 140 acres that are going to be surrounding the KED.”

The published report quoted Mayor Bigger as saying he is in support of building new and stated that this is what the citizens of Greater Sudbury deserve.

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