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Old April 29th, 2011, 05:29 AM   #2021
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Great metropolitan areas have great downtowns’

As London's core increasingly becomes a focus for politicians, a planner with extensive experience studying North American downtowns is still settling in at city hall.

Jim Yanchula arrived in London near the end of the last council term, bringing years of downtown knowledge that will no doubt prove useful as the city redoubles efforts to revitalize the core.

"There's no great metropolitan area that doesn't have a great downtown," Yanchula said Thursday, one day after addressing the city's well-attended downtown summit.

"One of the things that attracted me to London was that I felt people get it - they understand great metropolitan areas have great downtowns."

Yanchula, London's manager of community planning and urban design, came here from the City of Windsor.

He's a longtime member of the Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association, where he's helped judge the quality of downtowns worldwide.

Though London never entered its contests, Yanchula says the success of its Millennium Project - spawning the John Labatt Centre, Covent Garden Market and other sites - deserved wider recognition.

Mayor Joe Fontana is spearheading a renewed effort to revitalize downtown, largely based on his plan to build a new city hall and use the massive project to attract other private-sector investments.

Wednesday's downtown summit drew more than 250 Londoners, who were asked to answer three questions focused on the possible construction of a new city hall. Their answers will eventually be compiled in a report to council.

Not everyone is convinced that's the best idea, or that a new city hall is even necessary.

But whatever the direction, Yanchula says based on his experience London has a strong chance to build on its previous downtown successes.

"People would give their eye-teeth in medium-sized North American communities to have building like that Tricar tower across from the JLC," he said as an example, adding Londoners show "high interest and high evidence of interest" in the core.

Asked for a comparison to London's downtown potential, he pointed to Asheville, North Carolina - a medium-sized city and regional centre that has similarly strong natural amenities and heritage buildings.
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Old April 29th, 2011, 05:30 AM   #2022
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Grocery store ranks up top

A new city hall? Sure, that's an idea worth talking about.

But one day after the city-led downtown summit brought 250 Londoners to share their thoughts on core redevelopment, plenty more ideas poured into the just-started Who's London? project at lfpress.com.

The forum will give Londoners a place to share their ideas on various topics involving the Forest City - starting with downtown. There was no shortage of feedback on Thursday, including:

"Madeleine" wrote that a downtown grocery store must be a priority "if we want people to live downtown."

"That Guy In London" wrote that helping the homeless and the poor is the best way to fix downtown London's ills.

Nathan Dawthorne suggested getting rid of all parking meters in the downtown, much like many other communities have done.

"Kevin" wrote that the city should make the entire downtown a smoke-free zone, except for "certain hidden, designated areas."

"Michael" said a great idea is making Dundas from Wellington to Talbot car-free.

The ideas from "Michael" and "Madeleine" proved the most popular among readers, getting 25 and 33 votes of support respectively.

To add your thoughts to the discussion, go to lfpress.com and click on the Who's London? button.
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Old April 29th, 2011, 05:30 AM   #2023
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College insists core deal is still moving forward

Fanshawe College officials are rebuffing rumours their plans to build a much-vaunted campus in downtown London could be in peril.

Amid renewed focus on the rejuvenation of downtown, Fanshawe officials said Thursday they are inching closer to completing a $20-million deal with city hall to put down roots in the core.

"We're moving closer and closer to reaching a conclusion," Bernice Hull, Fanshawe's vice-president of administration, said, adding they are "very" close to finishing the deal.

City hall has proposed a $20-million pact with the college to establish a core campus that would house its planned School of Applied and Performance Arts.

The money can be split in two halves: the first $10 million would help offset the extra costs Fanshawe faces in buying and renovating heritage buildings. as opposed to building at a cheaper site.

The second $10 million would come from London's economic-development fund. Council has endorsed handing it over once a legal agreement with Fanshawe is completed.

But the expected deadline for that deal has passed - and Fanshawe has said the costs of renovating heritage buildings are higher than they'd expected.

Despite the delay, both Hull and Mayor Joe Fontana have stated with confidence the deal will be complete.

Veteran London journalist Phil McLeod, who blogs at themcleodreport.ca, cited a source in reporting this week that "the project is dead, at least in a heritage building in the downtown core."

Hull said heritage buildings remain part of Fanshawe's plan.

Earlier this month, Fontana termed the longer-than-expected negotiations a "hiccup." On Wednesday, he also downplayed concerns about the project.

The proposed downtown campus could be offering classes by 2012, with Fanshawe hoping its enrolment will hit 1,000 over the next decade.

Possible programs include theatre arts (performance), theatre production, costume design, digital media, culinary arts and broadcasting.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:43 PM   #2024
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Brescia to build new residence

Brescia University College is planning to build a new low-rise residence to accommodate its growth, with plans to open the doors in September 2013.

A special community meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in room 136 of Brescia’s St. James building, at which has invited neighbouring community members, alumnae, faculty, staff, students, and special guests to learn more about the university’s plans to build the residence that will provide 110 additional beds for prospective and current students.

“Brescia is showing managed growth, guided by our strategic plan, Living Leadership, which projects acquiring an additional 200 students by 2015. Building a new residence will help us achieve these objectives,” says Brescia’s principal Colleen Hanycz. “We’ll be able to offer students a safe, inclusive, and modernized living environment. We know our female students will appreciate the new design and layout of this complex because we invited and listened to their input and ideas.”

Construction of a dining pavilion, which will be open to the public, and the new residence will begin in the spring of 2012.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 07:53 AM   #2025
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City OKs $20M for Fanshawe

City council voted Monday to raise the curtain on a new star in downtown London, but not all the early reviews are positive.

By a 10-5 vote, politicians approved granting up to $20 million for Fanshawe College's downtown School of Applied and Performance Arts, which is projected to eventually bring 1,000 students to the core.

The project has been billed as a key step to further revitalize downtown, though not everyone joined Joe Fontana in a figurative standing ovation Monday.

"We're talking about building a city and a future (for) our downtown," the mayor said following a long debate.

Chief among councillors uneasy with the investment is Joe Swan, who's concerned that Ontario's government -- colleges, after all, are a provincial responsibility -- has so far committed no money.

Swan was firm in his questioning of Howard Rundle, Fanshawe's president, and steadfast in about whether the project is a good use of taxpayers' money.

"It just seems the city is the only one putting $20 million on the table and everyone else might come at some time," Swan said, adding he's not convinced that will happen.

"It's a concept, it's a plan, it's a hope, it's a wish."

And considering the size of the city's investment, Swan wondered about the "magnitude" of the impact -- noting the John Labatt Centre cost $42 million.

The deal would give post-secondary education -- a feature of many thriving downtowns in North American cities -- its first major presence in London's core.

The resistance to the deal was no doubt interesting for Rundle, who noted the city approached the college about the plan -- not the other way around.

If all the downtown campus plans come to fruition, the total price tag is about $40 million.

While the contract doesn't specifically state the college and province will spend $20 million to match the city share, Rundle says it's a likely expectation.

"Fanshawe is committed to this project. Our estimate is that it would cost another $20 million to do the project completely," he told reporters after the vote.

Of the $20-million half Fanshawe must supply, it's hoped $6 million will come from Queen's Park (the rest from fundraising and the school's reserves). But if it doesn't, the city needn't worry, Rundle told politicians before Monday night's debate.

"You give us the $20 million -- and it's up to us to come up with the other $20 million," he said. "It's our problem. The city doesn't have to worry about that."

Some councillors, such as Paul Hubert, expressed confidence in the safeguards built into the deal, which essentially state if Fanshawe's promises don't come to fruition, the city can scale back its investment.

With the concerns mounting, there was also a sense of urgency to Monday's debate.

Fanshawe has options to buy at least two downtown buildings that will expire in about two weeks. If council didn't approve the money Monday night, it could badly hamper the project's progress.

"It's now or never. We either pass this or we don't," Coun. Harold Usher said.

The much-delayed deal, under which the downtown campus could develop over the next decade, calls for the city to invest at least $1.5 million a year from 2011 to 2022 and $2 million in 2023.

The city, however, can invest at a faster rate if possible.

Of the city money, $10 million is an "economic development" grant. The other $10 million will offset renovation costs if Fanshawe buys "heritage" core buildings built before 1950.

The campus is expected to bring some 1,000 students downtown for a number of programs. Confirmed so far are theatre performance, technical theatre and costume design.

The school expects the campus to open in September 2013.

The councillors who voted in vain against the $20-million funding were Swan, Stephen Orser, Paul Van Meerbergen, Bill Armstrong and Denise Brown.

But criticisms of the plan aren't confined to city hall. Another bit of concern comes from the Fanshawe union, which says the college at first promised 75 full-time jobs at the campus but now pledges only 75 "full-time equivalents."
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Old May 11th, 2011, 06:19 AM   #2026
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‘Early days of rebirth’ of core area

People think nothing about shelling out big bucks for luxury condominium living in the core.


This might be just the beginning of the million-dollar condominium in London.

Within 24 hours of unveiling them, Tricar Group sold two million-dollar condominiums that will sit atop the second downtown Renaissance tower. The developer is now looking at sites for yet another tower in the downtown.

"We were shocked," Joe Carapella, president of Tricar Group, said of the quick sale. "We wondered whether London was ready but these are firm deals and we could have sold others if we had them."

Tricar has pre-sold 30 condominiums in its new, 188-unit building and 16 of those are penthouses. There are 21 penthouses in the building that won't open until mid-2013.

"When people are prepared to spend that kind of money in housing, they could live anywhere, but that tells you downtown is very happening," Carapella said.

The two $1-million condo buyers were London and area residents, a professional and entrepreneur who preferred not to be named.

"We are absolutely looking for a place to build another tower. We think this is in its infancy - it is the early days of the rebirth of downtown London," Carapella said.

Jim Kennedy, president of the London Development Institute, agreed, saying "there is a lot of interest" among developers and builders considering the core, especially in light of the city and Fanshawe College planning to build a $20-million education campus in the core. And that's on the heels of the city spending $100 million on downtown development in recent years.

"People are looking downtown, they are waiting and seeing what is happening with the economy and the new city hall," and other development proposals, Kennedy said.

But London is part of a trend across Canada. More cities are seeing people return to their downtown, with empty nesters tiring of mowing the lawn, driving everywhere and the blandness of suburban life, said Jason Gilliland, director of the urban development program at the University of Western Ontario.

"This is happening not just in London, condos are going up like crazy everywhere. It is about a real demographic shift" as baby boomers age, he said.

--- --- ---

Downtown living

Tricar Group has buildings at 22 Picton St., 125 units; a condominium at Wellington and Pall Mall, 80 units; the first Renaissance tower has 277 units and the second will be 188 units. That's a total of 670 units with about two people living in each unit.

In addition, Drewlo, Auburn and Old Oak have all built new residences in the core.

More than 5,000 people live downtown and 16,000 in central London.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 03:53 AM   #2027
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London gets two Target stores

London is getting two Target stores, as the U.S. retail giant announced Thursday where it’s locating its first wave of 105 stores in Canada.

Zellers stores at Westmount and Masonville malls will be converted to Target, set to open early in 2013.

Target bought Zellers and its 220 stores in a $1.8-billion deal with Hudson’s Bay Co. and wants to eventually open as many as 200 stores in Canada.

“Well, I think it is great. I love Target,” said Peggy Taylor of St. Thomas, shopping at the Zellers at Westmount Shopping Centre. “I think it is cheaper and there is more variety at Target.”

But not all customers were happy with the decision, saying they’ll miss buying Canadian.

“It’s a shame to see Zellers go. It is Canadian. But Target is not bad, either,” said Gwen Willison of Lambeth, who was at Zellers with her friend, Shirley Marr.

The friends regularly shop at Target in Port Huron, Mich., and see little difference between the two retailers.

“I like this store. They are both the same, really, but I hate to see a Canadian store go,” said Marr, also from Lambeth. “I do not like these American companies coming over here and buying us up.”

A Target will also be located in Stratford, at Stratford Mall.

Shoppers may be disappointed to find there’s little difference between the two chains, said Michael Pearce, a professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. “There is a cachet to the name, but people may find the experience is not that special in terms of merchandise. Still, it is a step up from Zellers and Wal-Mart,” he said.

Target markets more toward discounted women’s fashions, giving it a leg up on the discount competition, he added.

The announcement about Target’s Canadian roll-out came from Target Canada president Tony Fisher in Chicago.

The first wave of stores breaks down as 15 in British Columbia, 13 in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan, five in Manitoba, 45 in Ontario, 19 in Quebec, one in New Brunswick, one in PEI, two in Nova Scotia and two in Newfoundland and Labrador.

An announcement about the next round of openings is expected in September.

Target also announced it’ll open its Canadian head office in Mississauga
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Old May 28th, 2011, 06:27 AM   #2028
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London hits 401 jackpot
FREE PRESS EXCLUSIVE: City will get Queen’s Park help to build two new interchanges, worth tens of millions, to unlock highway-area growth

By CHIP MARTIN, The London Free Press

London’s profile along *Canada’s busiest superhighway is about to get its biggest boost since it became part of the city nearly 20 years ago.

The city will get new Hwy. 401 interchanges — projects worth tens of millions of dollars, adding new economic muscle to the city — at Wonderland Rd. in the west end and at Veterans Memorial Parkway in the east, The Free Press has learned.

The projects are meant to open adjacent lands for development and realize a dream for London laid out 18 years ago, when vast tracts of rural lands were annexed into the city and brought the 401 within its boundaries.

The province and city will partner on the exits designed to exploit London’s place on Canada’s busiest highway, part of an economic lifeline that binds the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican economies under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I’ve been working very hard to push this up the priority list, to get people in the city and at the province focused on this,” said London West MPP Chris Bentley, Ontario’s attorney general.

Bentley said he’s “excited about the possibilities. I am really looking forward to being able to speak about this in the future, down the road.”

Mayor Joe Fontana — who’s determined to boost city growth — declined to confirm the projects, but said “I am hopeful that our discussions with the provincial government will prove to be fruitful and, hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we could have a great announcement.”

“Great things are coming, that’s all I can say,” he said. It’s understood the cost of the projects, combined with needed land acquisition, will reach tens of millions of dollars.

Fontana said a new interchange at the 401 and Wonderland would be a “catalyst” to develop the southwest gateway, producing “thousands of jobs and tens of millions in extra taxes.”

He noted about $2 billion a day in international trade passes through London, whose key position makes it an ideal “pre-clearance” location for the border.

“With the advent of the interchange, everything should be accelerated,” he said.

Bentley said the province and city “have to do this together. That’s the message from our roundtables (on the economy), that’s the message of Mayor Fontana’s drive the last number of months.”

When the city nearly tripled in size in 1993, under a massive land annexation, the province insisted it acquire the London airport and the Hwy. 401-402 corridor to capitalize on its strategic transportation hubs for economic growth.

But since then, under a “gateway” project targeting the airport and the superhighways, only the airport has had investments to improve its operations as a warehousing hub. A “free-trade zone” concept there remains on the books.

In early January 2009, Bentley and fellow Liberal MPPs pulled together an economic roundtable that concluded the city needs to focus on the area around its two superhighways.

“One of things I heard was the corridor, the best transportation corridor in the world, was basically undeveloped,” Bentley said. “We had very little presence there. We didn’t take advantage of the fact that we could access almost 200 million people by truck or car in less than a day.”

He said the city and province must be partners, and the city would need to acquire land to extend Wonderland to the new interchange at the 401.

Fontana said he believes expansion of London’s Greenway sewage plant will provide necessary servicing for the southwest and not a major new plant once estimated to cost $50 million.

Bentley said getting London a stronger presence along the superhighways is essential for economic development and the senior levels of the provincial government are onside.

“They are almost the golden mile — you don’t have to go to Yukon to pan for gold,” he said. “We’ve got it right here in the fields around London. If you service it, they will come.”

At the London Economic Development Corp., business and industry often ask about available land along the 401 and 402.

“How quickly and cost-effectively can they move their product to market,” is the main concern of potential newcomers, said Kadie Ward, LEDC’s director of marketing and communications.

Access is by far the priority, but others want highway visibility and the more than 50,000 passersby daily to see their name.

Ward said the airport work was the first phase in the city gateway project. The focus is now shifting to London’s road connections to the world.

Among those interested in highway visibility is Toronto-based PenEquity, which wants to create its own $100-million “retail gateway” project south of the 401 and west of Wellington Rd. The developer acquired 610 metres of frontage along the highway. But that’s a retail venture, unlike the industries that have been filling up Innovation Park at Veterans Memorial Parkway and the 401.

“The city did great work around Innovation Park,” Bentley said.

“People said, ‘You are going to have empty fields there for years.’ Go look at those fields, now. They are covered with the Hanwhas, the Cakeries and the others,” he said, citing recent corporate arrivals.

“They have come from all over the world, from all over North America, because they have location, great knowledge, great training, excellent infrastructure . . . you have it all here.”
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Old May 28th, 2011, 06:28 AM   #2029
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^ It will be nice to see Veterans Parkway extended (maybe future extension to St. Thomas) and another interchange at Wonderland Road.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 06:35 AM   #2030
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Best sports bar may be coming to London!!!!!

No. 1 suds hole eyes London




The best sports bar in North America — as judged by ESPN — just may be coming to London.

Real Sports Bar and Grill, the massive downtown Toronto bar near the Air Canada Centre, is looking at locating a bar in downtown London, said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president venues and entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

“We plan on expanding to more than one site and London is one of the sites we are looking at. I would say it is a top candidate,” Hunter said.

A decision will be made this summer and if it lands here it will be big. MLSE would like a 16,000-square-foot venue, large enough to host 600 people, a 32-by-50-foot TV and an adjacent retail store selling sports apparel.

“We have a wow factor when you first walk in,” they will try to replicate here, Hunter added.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is looking to add five to seven bars across Canada eventually but wants the first close to the ACC, “so we can manage it” from Toronto, he said.

“We have to get the right financial deal in place, but we love the London market. We think it is great,” he said pointing to a large student population, support for the London Knights hockey team and a vibrant bar scene, as proof the city can accommodate it.

As for a location, Hunter declined comment on where it is looking but rumours point to King and Talbot streets as a possible site.

The bar may act as a draw for some visitors to London, said John Winston, director Tourism London, but he wondered whether the core could sustain the massive venture.

“I would think they would have to pack it in every night to be sustainable,” said Winston. “We do not have events every night at the JLC — 600 people may be a stretch.”

By comparison Joe Kool’s was about 3,000 square feet when it opened, owner Mike Smith said.

“I have heard they are coming and it would be good for downtown, anything that will keep downtown vital is good for this city,” Smith said.

As for fearing competition, “I am not afraid of anything,” he said.

In 2010 the U.S. sports network ESPN held a contest looking for the best sports bar in America, and when the Real Sports Bar and Grill in Toronto won it, it had to change the name of the contest.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 05:27 AM   #2031
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big news i just went by the old terresan site and i guess it has been sold because the signs were gone and they are bracing the fence so who knows maybe somethin happenin
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 09:00 AM   #2032
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Where's that?
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 11:21 PM   #2033
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dundas @ english it was the 9 story brick building proposed last year
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Old June 25th, 2011, 10:18 PM   #2034
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New $90-million residence will house 1,000 students

UWO: Gearing up to increase enrolment


A new residence to be built near Western and Sarnia roads will house 1,000 UWO students.

More university students will be able to stay on campus once Western builds the $90-million residence its board of governors approved this week.

The residence, to be finished by Sept. 2013, will add 1,000 beds and have a health and wellness centre. It is expected to create 20 architectural and engineering jobs along with 400 construction jobs over the next two years.

"We're very excited about this new residence," said Susan Grindrod, vice-president of housing and ancillary services at UWO. "It's going to be a good new addition to Western."

The province expects 60,000 more students will want to go to college or university by 2015-16. Western plans to increase the number of first-year students it accepts to help that anticipated influx.

The university is expecting 5,100 first-year students this fall - more than its 4,800 target.

Western, said Grindrod, guarantees all first-year students a spot in on-campus housing.

"We know the best place for them is on campus," she said, adding when first-year students live on campus it ensures they have the support they need to do well in their studies.

Residences on campus have been at or over capacity the last few years, she said, adding the new residence will free space for upper-year students who want to live on campus but weren't able to because of a lack of beds.

Work on the new residence, which will be built on Althouse's north parking lot, near Western and Sarnia roads, will begin this fall.

When the new residence is complete, Western will have 5,350 available beds among its residences.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #2035
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The $40-million downtown arts campus

FANSHAWE COLLEGE: It’s a major step in nailing down financing for the downtown campus


The $40-million downtown arts campus for Fanshawe College is one step closer with a commitment of $6 million in provincial funding.

The announcement was made at the community college Friday by London-Fanshawe MPP Khalil Ramal.

Fanshawe president Howard Rundle said the project would accommodate the expansion of Fanshawe and provide a major economic boost for the downtown.

"Arts and culture are a big business. Businesses want to locate in cities with a vibrant cultural scene," he said.

The city has already committed up to $20 million to the project and Fanshawe's board of governors has pledged $7 million in capital reserves with the rest coming from community fundraising.

Mayor Joe Fontana said city council's commitment is an investment in jobs and education.

"Education is at the centre of who we are and what we can be. We want to dream of making London the education capital of the country," Fontana said at the announcement.

Rundle said the location and configuration of the downtown campus is still in the planning stages and the buildings may not be adjacent to one other.

He said the campus plan is based on buying and renovating existing buildings rather than new construction.

Rundle said Fanshawe is moving to acquire the first of the buildings needed for the campus.

"We would like to close on that building by the end of the summer so we can start doing the design work. We can't do anything until we know what we have," he said.

The campus is expected to bring about 1,000 students and 75 staff downtown for a number of programs including theatre, design, digital media and culinary and hospitality programs.

The school expects the first facility in the new campus to open in September 2013.

Fanshawe leases space in Citi Plaza for theatre arts programs, continuing education and job search services. Rundle said Fanshawe may continue to use that space even after the new campus opens
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Old July 5th, 2011, 04:30 AM   #2036
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London's Tourism Industry on the Mend

According to a report by the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, visitors spent just over $490-million last year.

That represents an increase of 3.2% over the previous year.

The report shows the largest portion of spending in London was attributed to spending on food and beverage, which totaled $173-million.

Prior to the recession, local tourism was generating is excess of 500 million dollars.

General Manager of Tourism London John Winston believes the city's summer festivals will be packed with more and more families choosing a summer stay-cation.

"We're seeing a lot more Ontarians staying in Ontario to do their vacationing. Close to 87% of all visitations to the city and to the Province in general come from the Province. Our biggest concern is what's happening in the United States. There's still a lot of economic uncertainty there."

The report also indicates just over 63-hundred jobs were supported within London by tourism spending.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 11:08 PM   #2037
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any pics of that bmo soccer venue?
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Old July 13th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #2038
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCanadianEuro View Post
"Other ideas call for razing the association’s aging Special Events and Canada buildings and buying and demolishing homes on Rectory St., along with properties owned on King St., to create a parking area for 40 RVs."

No.
Only a couple months late to the party with this reply.

I understand how important parking can be, but is there really no other solution besides tearing down these houses? If this neighbourhood really does bounce back like some people are hoping, it's quality housing stock like these that will give the area its character.

I seriously hope they don't tear these houses down to replace them with another massive parking lot. Anyone have info on this fate of these houses?
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 01:29 AM   #2039
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London gets new flights

By MASHOKA MAIMONA, The London Free Press


London International Airport can become a real alternative to the busier Toronto and Detroit airports after two new flight destinations were added to the London facility’s airport roster, aviation experts say.

WestJet Airlines has announced two new flights flying out of London to Las Vegas and Cancun, Mexico, starting Oct. 30 — a sign that London continues to be a “terrific market” for the Canadian airline, Richard Bartrem, a WestJet spokesperson, said Wednesday.

“WestJet is the largest international carrier in the world to Las Vegas. We looked for the most effective and efficient use of our fleets — we know the London market will be a hit,” Bartrem said.

Convenience is London’s selling point when it comes to competing with the larger Toronto and Detroit airports, said Mike Seabrook, London International Airport’s vice-president.

“Our strategy (in London) is to attract those travellers now driving to the bigger airports by providing that option of an easy airport to use. In time, if we stick to that strategy of being easy, we can become a destination airport.”

About 500,000 travellers fly out of the London airport every year, bringing in an annual revenue of $12 million.

The airport loses 75% of local travellers flying to the U.S., who drive to Detroit to catch a cheaper flight. Between 30% and 40% drive to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport for domestic flights.

Price is the reason for leakage of passengers to the bigger airports, said the president of Uniglobe Travel London.

“It’s a delicate balance, because people will absolutely seek out accessibility and London International Airport is more accessible than Toronto and Detroit. That being said, people will only go so far for convenience, until money becomes an issue,” said Mike Foster.

Being able to provide direct flights is where the potential lies for London International, according to a commercial pilot and former UWO aviation management professor.

“London’s airport is comparatively much better than the airports in Hamilton or Waterloo when it comes to size and infrastructure,” said Doug Glussich.
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 01:30 AM   #2040
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Indoor London soccer

Taxpayers kicked for $1.6M

BMO CENTRE: Indoor London soccer complex hits surprise cost overrun

By CHIP MARTIN, The London Free Press


City taxpayers won’t get a kick out of this — they’re being hit for $1.6 million in surprise cost overruns for a new indoor soccer complex.

The BMO Centre at Western Fair District has produced the sort of surprises that so-called industrial “brownfield” redevelopment sites are famous for — unexpected junk and extra costs.

“This often happens in brownfields,” Coun. Paul Hubert said of the extra costs, which will push the project’s tab to more than $10 million.

“This was a good-news story,” he lamented, “but this is a bummer.”

City council’s finance committee learned of the bad news Wednesday.

When it agreed to help build the complex for the London Optimists, the city said it would cover any unexpected expenses, so it’s stuck with the additional cost, Hubert said.

“It’s going to cost the taxpayer. But at the end of the day, it is a good long-term investment,” he said of the complex whose four mini-pitches should be open by October.

Coun. Nancy Branscombe said she didn’t like the nasty surprise.

“We were shocked at the amount of the cost overrun,” she said.

Branscombe said she’s asked for a report from staff that might see greater contingency fees applied to brownfield projects in future.

“We must continue to do brownfield redevelopment,” Branscombe said. “We’re not happy at this.”

Jack Baribeau, president of Baribeau Construction, the project manager, said officials knew from 44 test holes drilled on the site that some junk might be encountered — but nothing like what started turning up during sewer-line digging.

Slabs of concrete, steel, railway ties, tar — even mattresses and other debris was unearthed, he said.

“We were told this stuff had been cleaned up,” he said.

“We think it was from the railway lines,” he said of material he suspects was once part of a railway roundhouse and nearby railcar repair shops.

Some material, Baribeau added, may have been from refineries located in the area back in the late 1800s, before a major fire prompted them to relocate to Petrolia.

Baribeau said he doesn’t expect to find any more nasty surprises, since only a few more holes for utility poles need to be dug on the site.

Creation of the indoor complex was part of a deal under which the Optimists are relocating their sports centre from Cuddy Blvd., near the London airport.
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