Multi-billion dollar boom expected downtown, buoyed by new arena
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:41PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 6:19PM MST
While the high-profile debate over the downtown arena continued to unfold at City Hall, construction projects and new businesses started to pop up in the downtown area – now that council has essentially voted to move forward with the project, activity in the area is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
“The city is booming, and we’re starting to see our downtown where it should have been five, ten years ago,” Scott Penrice said.
Penrice is sales manager with the Ultima Tower, a new downtown tower under construction – and units are selling quickly.
“We’re definitely anticipating hopefully even before the end of the year here that we’re going to be completely sold out,” Penrice said.
Experts believe the current boom in the city’s downtown core came in anticipation of City Council’s vote on the downtown arena.
On Wednesday, councillors voted in favour of moving forward with the project – and that will translate to even more development in the next few years.
“We’ve got all kinds of things, new high-rises being built,” Jim Taylor, with the Downtown Business Association said. “It’s all part of the hype of the arena.”
The association said more developments are planned, and it’s estimated the area will see $4.8 billion in investments over the next five years – in the form of businesses and buildings.
While the Downtown Business Association can’t speculate on how much of that is directly related to the arena – it’s expected the Katz Group and partner WAM Developments will invest about $2 billion into the arena district alone.
Some worry an increase in development could become a cause for concern in terms of traffic, in both vehicles and on foot.
However, at least one new establishment is looking forward to seeing more people on the streets in the area.
“Now people are going to stay downtown,” Devin Pope with the Mercer Tavern said. “They’re going to live, eat, work downtown.
“I can’t wait to see that.”
With files from Bill Fortier