Glebe BIA “underwhelmed and disappointed”
Adding up to 300,000 square feet of retail space to Lansdowne Park will draw shoppers from across the city and strengthen existing businesses in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, concludes a new report.
“The Glebe lacks an anchor (retailer),” said John Williams, of Toronto-based retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, at a press conference Thursday morning.
He said developers should not try to copy other developments and should have a blend of stores, restaurants, entertainment and services that generates activity at Lansdowne Park 18 hours a day and has a positive impact on the “good” Bank Street retailers.
The vision includes ethnic, cheese, meats or seafood food stores, multiple coffee shops, cafes and bistros, a handful of themed restaurants, a sporting goods store, a gardening retailer and a movie theatre.
“Nothing is going to dominate or take away from the Glebe,” said Mr. Williams.
He offered examples of retail tenants that would make Lansdowne a unique shopping destination. But after several questions from reporters and councillors, it remained unclear what tools officials have to attract specific merchants.
Along with local and independent stores, the report calls for “ample national retailers,” a cause for concern for Catherine Lindquist, executive director of the Glebe BIA.
Speaking to reporters after the press conference, Ms. Lindquist noted that roughly three-quarters of existing merchants in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South are independent retailers.
She also asked how all the additional traffic would be accommodated.
“This will shut down the area,” predicted Ms. Lindquist, adding she was “underwhelmed and disappointed” with the report.
During his presentation, Mr. Williams said the underground parking facility would be sufficient on most days, but that further transportation studies would be needed when major events are taking place.
It will be up to architects and a design team to come up with the exact store sizes and layouts. However, the J.C. Williams report concluded the commercial component of Lansdowne Park should be predominately small scale retail, without big-box or enclosed shopping centres.
Mr. Williams proposed a retail mix of:
-25 per cent food and beverages
-20 per cent restaurants and cafes
-20 per cent cinemas and theatres
-15 per cent sports and leisure
-10 per cent health, spa and fitness
-10 per cent services
Mr. Williams’ firm was selected by the city to provide a third-party study of the commercial development component of Lansdowne Park. When its work is completed, the $70,000 cost will be split between the city and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which is leading the redevelopment.
The retail report is one of several studies conducted ahead of council’s final decision on the project this June.