Lansdowne 2.0 Is Big Money For More Failure


Lansdowne flies in the face of some of the basic factors that make a mall a success.

Let’s take a look at them:

Location: At first blush, Lansdowne looks like a great spot for a shopping mall. Downtown, lots of people, a focal point for the city. But it’s not that simple. Sure it’s downtown but where is the mass transit to bring people to Lansdowne? Nowhere. What about the traffic? Terrible. Free parking? Not enough. How can Lansdowne compete with shopping centres in Orleans, Kanata, Gloucester, Barrhaven, Nepean and South Keys when it doesn’t offer free parking. People drive big distances to get to a place with little parking at Lansdowne but at Kanata Centrum the parking is free while it offers more shopping and entertainment than Lansdowne ever can. By the way, that long drive uses very expensive gas. The free-parking shopping centre in your neighbourhood means less time on the road and less gas.

Market Analysis: That market analysis has already been done in the most accurate way possible. Want to discover if something sells? Sell it. If it sells, it works. If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t work. Lansdowne doesn’t sell. It doesn’t work.

Design and Layout: A shopping mall should be attractive. All that concrete is not attractive. It holds the heat in summer and looks cold in the winter. Lansdowne is in a neighbourhood where green is beautiful. Lansdowne is not green and Lansdowne 2.0 (I’m loathe to use that term) is less green than the not-green 1.0.

Will OSEG Want Lansdowne 3.0? WHOPPER WATCH

Tenant Mix: This is a killer. It doesn’t offer the kind of things that people in the Glebe want. They want fashionable and trendy. Lansdowne is a shopping mall. Lansdowne is the wrong product in the wrong place. Glebe residents want to stroll down a street where there are funky this and thats to buy. Lansdowne is a lot of things but funky is not one of them. It would sell snowshoes when the Glebe wants Gucci.

Management Team: This group has a lot of experience building high-rises and subdivisions. I’m not sure that they have the expertise to run a shopping mall really well. They might but it is hard to tell. And the result is a bit damning. Lansdowne, as currently configured, doesn’t work.

Marketing and Promotion: That’s become very difficult in this modern age. Media is so segmented that it is no longer possible to advertise in the Citizen or CTV Ottawa’s six o’clock news and reach the whole Ottawa market. Where do you advertise to reach your market? And Lansdowne is a general market. Are there vehicles that reach the whole Ottawa market? Sort of (by the way, we recommend The Bulldog).

Safety and Security: Lansdowne is pretty safe. Certainly safer than Ottawa’s very troubled ByWard Market. The market has become a huge problem and it’s flying under the radar of city hall and the people of Ottawa.

Sustainability: I’m not sure that is front of mind of Lansdowne management. I’m sure the place is well-insulated and uses low-power lighting. But the arena has lost its proposed green roof in 2.0 and it takes away green space. Unlikely that will go over well with the Glebesters. Furthermore all that concrete pours a lot of water into storm sewers and contributes to polluting our natural water system and closing our beaches. And, as an aside, Lansdowne was not well received by the park’s neighbours. Lansdowne 2.0 is alienating the mall’s walk-up trade even more. Not a good idea to alienate your primary market.

Accessibility and Amenities: Few complaints have been heard about the amenities at Lansdowne though that might be that people can’t be bothered to complain. Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has complained about the concessions and washrooms in the north-side stands which is no doubt a problem. That said, two-thirds of a billion dollars is a lot of money to fix washrooms or get a hotdog. And on the subject of amenities, taking the roof off the northside stands is a bad idea. It’s a false economy. People sit on the northside for football because the roof protects them from sun, rain and freezing rain. Sit out on a cold day at a football game with it raining and the couch and the television seem like a good option. Most people if they have a choice choose dry over wet. Taking the roof off alienates your market.

Adaptability: How does Lansdowne adapt to online shopping? No other malls have been able to very well. Unlikely there’s a solution to this. Bricks and mortar are yesterday’s news. And work-at-home is today’s news.

Financial management: No doubt the books are kept well at Lansdowne and they tell a sad story. Thus Lansdowne 2.0. The city’s financial management leaves us wanting. Such as pouring two-thirds of a billion dollars in a high interest-rate environment into something that doesn’t work and assuming lots of debt in the process. Lansdowne has always been a bad deal for the city and taxpayers. The best idea was a park because the city has some experience in trimming hedges now and then. That doesn’t cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Selling the land was a good option because the most valuable undeveloped land in the city would have fetched a good price and that money could have been used for reserves or to pay down debt. Debt and reserves matter. People should want the city to pay for good services and limit debt. This municipality has failed miserably in those regards.

Lansdowne: Costs Skyrocket, Stadium Roof Lost: MENARD

So the verdict on Lansdowne is no. It didn’t work in the past and won’t work in the future. It is a fiscal sinkhole. The city should cut its losses which will be substantial and get out of there. That said, some politicians might have commitments from which they can’t extract themselves. Those people should be voted out.

Lansdowne is more of the past and the past has proven precisely that this project doesn’t work. Lansdowne 2.0 is just more failure.

The city should do what it was meant to do. Provide vital services such as transit and garbage pick up. Doubtful the municipal act outlines shopping malls as a municipal responsibility except to regulate them.

Lansdowne was a bad idea that’s getting worse.

Ken Gray


Please note: The Bulldog would be happy to print a rebuttal to this piece if someone is interested in responding and their writing ability is suitable for publishing. All material in The Bulldog is subject to editing.




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1 Response

  1. Andrew says:

    Excellent summary! It hits major points well. The one missing fact is that intensification is planned for solving housing costs and urban sprawl. It has been generally accepted in the Glebe without much complaint up until now. The problem is greenspace and urban recreation has been chronicly undeserved in the core areas. It is well documented in the newly approved parks and recreation master plan and the new official plan.

    These plans were well consulted for years and should guide the mayor, councilors and city staff.
    The city’s primary goal is to have a minimum of 2.0 hectares per 1000 people, as is the already the norm in Barhaven, Orleans, Kanata
    Nepean. It is currently a top priority to get the urban area more greenspace and facilities which is currently 30-40% underserved.

    This is ENTIRELY lost in the 2.0 plan, in fact, it is intentionally avoided! (When specifically asked, the City staff answered “we are planning on re-doing the playground”, avoiding the community center/facilities and greenspace ratio the city stated as a priority). Essentially saying they are going to “rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic”.
    2.0 makes the situation worse for the area and is against these newly approved plans and is contrary to the public interest. As intensification continues, where do these people recreate? The apartment dwellers do not have yards, or access to parks like most of the rest of the city does.

    To remove an undreserved area’s greenspace, privatize a public park, and give single source planning authority to private interests with tax dollars supplying major funds seems suspicious and unexplainable.

    Thankyou Bulldog and Ken for calling attention to something affecting every citizen for years to come and is not being done following the cities own policies and priorities.

    The mayor needs to work for his citizens interests, and not just his or his group of friends.

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