Futuristic alternative to Northlands plan would cost the city nothing, says developer

As council prepares to decide the future of Northlands and the Coliseum, a developer has pitched a new plan that he says wouldn’t cost the city any money.

Edmonton developer says $6B idea could be built without public dollars

A rendering of the plan for Northlands proposed by the Cedar Waxwing Group (Ted Powell/ Cedar Waxwing Group)

As council prepares to decide the future of Northlands and the Edmonton Coliseum, a developer has pitched a new plan he says wouldn't cost the city any money. 

The plan proposes an alternative to Northlands' request for $212 million to redevelop the area but councillors familiar with the proposal say it is not likely to be picked up by council. 

The idea, put forward by the Cedar Waxwing Group, would cost $6 billion but does not call for any public money.

Cedar Waxwing proposes a $600 million renovation to the Coliseum with adjacent multi-use domes that can be used for amateur and recreational sports. 

The first few phases also involve building an automated underground parking garage and converting Alberta Avenue into a pedestrian street.

Later phases of the development include futuristic projects like a transportation hub for rail, helicopter and drone passengers.

A rendering of the futuristic traffic hub proposed by the Cedar Waxwing Group, which includes trains, LRT, and landing pads for helicopters and passenger drones. (Ted Powell/ Cedar Waxwing Group)

In February, Northlands pitched a redevelopment plan for the site, which includes developing the Coliseum, the Expo Centre, and creating a new outdoor festival space.

In total, Northlands' plan would cost the city $165 million in renovations, and $47 million to forgive a debt Northlands owes the city for a previous Expo Centre expansion.

The new proposal is headed by Ted Powell, a California-based architect and founder of the Cedar Waxwing Group.

He said he has a special interest in the area because he grew up on 119th Avenue and 91st Street.

"The Northlands community seemed to always turn its back on the Alberta Avenue district," Powell said. "My interest was to look at that area to see how it could be reconfigured so that Northlands and the community both benefit."

Developer to present idea to council

Unlike Northlands, which is a not-for-profit entity, Powell said his venture would be a money-making one. Cedar Waxwing would start a management company to operate the buildings on its behalf.

While the group is not asking for civic money, Powell said the development would take place on the city's land, but the city would retain ownership. The group would also ask the city to expropriate land on its behalf for the improvements to Alberta Avenue, and it would pay the expense.

Powell said his plans only involve the lands north of Alberta Avenue, so Northlands could continue to operate the Expo Centre.

Coun. Tony Caterina, who represents the area, said he isn't interested in seeing the alternative proposal move forward.

Still, Powell and his team plan to present their proposal to council on Aug. 31st, at a public hearing on the plans for Northlands.