Downtown Edmonton Galleria project suspended

The Galleria Project, a sprawling arts district proposed for downtown Edmonton, has been suspended by its board of directors.

The proposal for a downtown arts district failed to meet 'milestones'

The Edmonton Galleria project, an arts district proposed for downtown, has been suspended. (Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Centre Foundation )

The Galleria Project, a sprawling arts district proposed for downtown Edmonton, has been suspended by its board of directors.

The Edmonton Galleria Foundation released a statement Wednesday night confirming the $850-million project is no longer considered viable.

"Bringing Edmonton Galleria Foundation's vision to life required us to be able to bring several different components together," reads the statement.

"Unfortunately at this time, and despite the significant support from the City of Edmonton, we have been unable to reach our milestones.

"The proposed state-of-the-art performing arts facilities were to be supported by the development of income-producing real estate which also would have provided a sustainable funding source for the arts and culture in Edmonton through the Edmonton Cultural Trust Foundation.

"The board of directors is appreciative to all those who supported the project."

Plans for the project included a new arts campus for the University of Alberta, new theatres, and an outdoor plaza.

The proposal included plans for a new arts campus for the University of Alberta, four new theatres, two rehearsal halls, and an outdoor plaza.

The Galleria building, located north of 103A Avenue, across from City Hall and adjacent to the new Royal Alberta Museum, would have been the project's focal point.

Concept designs for the complex showed an open-air plaza, partly encased in glass and populated with shops and cafés.  

The Edmonton Downtown Academic and Cultural Centre (E-DACC) Foundation was proposing to build the non-profit district under what it calls a P4 — a philanthropic, private, public partnership.

Developers hoped a combination of philanthropic donations, private funding, municipal and provincial grants, as well as income-generating properties would be enough to make the costly project a reality.

The foundation expected to raise upwards of $100 million from donations and grants, obtain $100 million from the city in land and funding, and borrow $650 million.

The group had been working on the centre since 2008 when a city report identified a need for stage venues and rehearsal space for dance and theatre productions.

The foundation had indicated that the project wouldn't go ahead without commercial leases for the office building, and long-term leases with the University of Alberta.

In May 2015, the city's executive committee endorsed a memorandum of understanding with the E-DACC — and gave conditional financial support to the project.

Developers had initially hoped that construction on the project would be completed by July 1, 2017, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Confederation.