A council committee has given the nod to setting up a city corporationmeant tokick-start the rebirth of Calgary's East Village.
Under the plan approved by the audit committee Thursday, the city will front an estimated $150 million through the newCalgary Municipal Land Corporationto replace the sewers, sidewalks and contaminated soil on about50 or sosquare blockseast of city hall.
Thecitywill then recover that borrowedmoney through property taxes once new buildings such as condosgo up. Also planned for the site is a new police headquarters, public library and university campus.
"The city is doing what we need to do on publicly owned land," said Mayor Dave Bronconnier. "That means clean it up, put new utilities in and get it ready for the private sector to start building buildings."
The idea will be presented to city council for ratification early next month.
The East Village has been on the decline for many years, to the point where now it is known more for crime and crack than comfy condos.
Druh Farrell, the area alderman, says this will kick-startan area that has been called The Blight by the Bow.
"It needs us to do the public improvement to show that this area can be developable, because right now we just don't have confidence in the area."
The last time the City of Calgary tried to get involved in redeveloping East Village, it cost some senior city staff memberstheir jobs.
A partnership with the private sector to build housing and retail space in the East Village, which would have included canals and gondolas, ended in the fall of 2002 when the city dropped out.
An investigation determined that by acting as landowner, developer and regulator, the city had a conflict of interest in the $1.5-billion deal. It cost the city $2.8 million to extract itself from the deal.
Bronconnier says that won't happen this time, adding that the purpose of this corporation is clear and well defined. He says the reconstruction could begin as early as this fall.
But Ald. Diane Colley Urquhart said the plan makes her nervous and shefears a repeat of the 2002 fiasco.
"This was half-cooked, half-baked, and we should have been able to take another run at it. So that is why I couldn't support it."