April 16, 2014 1:42 am
Updated: April 16, 2014 8:53 pm

City willing to contribute to Galleria project, only if others step up too

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EDMONTON – The questions continue about the Galleria Project proposed for the north edge of downtown Edmonton.

The estimated billion dollar project is billed as a P-4:  a public, private, and philanthropic partnership. The plan is that project backers would finance and build space for two U of A faculties, and an office tower for the private sector.  Rent from those two areas would then be used to support four proposed theatre spaces.

Galleria plan

Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Centre

The City has committed $4.4 million for design work on a pedway that would connect to the new Royal Alberta Museum. But the funding comes with strings attached, as the City wants a guarantee of rent revenue first.

“We need to see an anchor tenant sign; we need to see the province’s commitment — not just verbally, we need to see it in writing; and we also need to see that other people who are part of the project are buying into the project,” explained Ward 5 Councillor Michael Oshry.

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Oshry also believes the business case of the project still has a lot of holes in it.

Aside from an estimated $50 million project backers are hoping to get from the City, the deal sees $100 million dollars of the project funded through philanthropy.

The spokesperson of the Galleria Project, Godfrey Huybregts, says nearly $50 million of that has already been raised.

“We’ve had tremendous support from people who have great confidence in what we are doing, and how we have structured the project,” he said.

Huybregts added that those behind the Galleria Project will now “work very hard” to meet the parameters set by Council.

Although timing is critical for those pushing the project, Council still has other important questions to consider.

“Is this the right time for a project of this magnitude to be constructed and started?” said Oshry. “Again, we’ve got other projects on the go.”

“It’s a great project, it’s visionary, it would be fantastic; but maybe now is just not the time to do it,” added Ward 3 Councillor Dave Loken. “It doesn’t mean it won’t get done at some point.”

“I think we have to work on our own timelines too. I mean, we cannot be forced by somebody else’s deadline to throw money around,” said Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen.

“This is not a quick and easy decision, and it’s very complicated,” added Oshry. “Lots of different stakeholders and we have to make sure that we handle this appropriately.”

With files from Vinesh Pratap and Quinn Ohler, Global News

© 2014 Shaw Media

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