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Katz Group responds to Mayor’s invitation
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 3:07PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2012 7:18PM MDT
Two days after the mayor issued a public statement – inviting the Katz Group to hold public negotiations on the downtown arena project – the company has responded to, and declined, the offer.
On Thursday, a statement was issued from the Katz Group's Executive Vice President John D. Karvellas, who said while the invitation was appreciated; the company won’t take the mayor up on his offer:
“We do not think such a meeting can be productive until we have reduced the outstanding issues,” Karvellas said in the statement. “As we have said previously, we remain committed to working constructively with City Administration to reach an agreement and would be pleased to go before Council with Administration to present a comprehensive and mutually supported proposal, or even a proposal with one or two significant issues still to be resolved.
“Then, Council can review the proposal and either approve or reject it as they see fit.”
The statement was made in response to an invitation sent out late Tuesday afternoon by Mayor Stephen Mandel – asking the Katz Group to present their case to city council, and the public.
CTV News spoke to Mayor Mandel a short time after the statement was made public – he was optimistic.
“I think it is very positive news,” Mandel said.
“This is about coming up with a solution to build, or not build an arena,” Mandel continued. “They said they will work with our administration and come up with solutions on issues – what issues separate them, they will come to council to deal with.”
So far, negotiations for the massive project have continued behind closed doors, with many details kept under a shroud of secrecy.
Last week, City Councillors were reportedly told in a private council meeting that the company wants more concessions to the deal including extra money for construction, a $6 million annual operating subsidy, a break on property taxes and a promise from the city that civic offices will move to the new tower, which will also be built by the company.
City Council said they were surprised by the request – as the city and the Katz Group had agreed on a deal in October, 2011, to spend a total of $450 million on a downtown arena, with the Katz Group paying $100 million over 35 years.
Now, at least one councillor isn’t totally sure where the Katz Group stands.
“We need to have a meeting,” Councillor Kim Krushell said. “I find it confusing on one hand they say they don’t want to meet, and the other they say they do.
“So they really need to clarify things.”
On Monday, Daryl Katz was interviewed by the Edmonton Journal – and said more work needed to be done on the deal to cover long-term costs the downtown arena could rack up.
A spokesperson for the Katz Group told CTV News he was not aware if any meetings had been set up between the company and city administration.
With files from Sonia Sunger
Exterior aerial view of the proposed downtown arena at night from the south. Supplied. May 16.