Watch above: what happened to the River Landing mega project?
SASKATOON – The 2014 construction season is well under way. Cranes are a common sight in the downtown skyline.
Parcel ‘Y’, east of Persephone Theatre and south of 19th Street remains untouched. The fenced-off and weed-ridden lot is waiting to realize its full potential.
Thursday afternoon, John Nasser with Victory Majors, came to the site for a discussion.
“We would have liked to have started by now but honestly, it has been a roller coaster,” said Nasser.
Victory Majors has owned the land since 2010. It was originally sold to Calgary’s Lake Placid Developments but failing to meet financial deadlines, the deal fell through.
The history of the site dates back to the 1980’s when SaskPower’s old A.L Cole electrical plant shut down. In 2004 the federal and provincial governments committed a cash injection of $30 million to develop River Landing.
The following year, city council began brainstorming a mega project which would bundle several varieties of development.
The preliminary design for Parcel ‘Y’ contemplates a 10-storey hotel, a 27-storey condominium and a 17-storey office building with the addition of restaurants and retail shops at ground level.
According to Ryan Walker, the associate professor of regional and urban planning at the University of Saskatchewan, bundling several development lines together may have been a critical mistake.
“Any one of those individual projects – a hotel, an office building, residential – has its own sub market in Saskatoon and so a development company will come along typically and develop one of those projects.”
Walker says most companies specialize in one realm, not several.
Victory Majors is asking for patience.
“It is the largest commercial private development in the province which of course takes a lot of time for all the variables to come together” Nasser said. “We’re progressing to a point where we’re not ready to start digging however we are making progress and we are committed to the project.”
Hesitating to give a fixed date Nasser said only that the company hopes to begin construction within the next couple years.
The project was originally pegged to cost around $200 million. Nasser says it’s now likely to ring in between $300 and $400 million, admitting the cost to build continues to rise with the passage of time.
In the meantime, Parcel ‘Y’ functions as a parking lot. Victory Majors donates all money generated from the site to local charities.