Coun­cil votes to drop its op­tion to buy space in Edmonton Tower

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - ELISE STOLTE es­tolte@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/es­tolte

The City of Edmonton will get $5 mil­lion in ex­change for drop­ping the right to buy space in the Edmonton Tower if it’s ever sold.

The de­ci­sion was made af­ter an in-cam­era de­bate at city coun­cil Wed­nes­day.

The vote was unan­i­mous. City of­fi­cials an­nounced the news Fri­day morn­ing, af­ter fi­nal­iz­ing the con­tract with the Ice District Corp.

The Edmonton Tower opened last fall to ac­com­mo­date 2,000 city staff, re­lo­cated from nine other of­fice build­ings.

Coun. An­drew Knack said the op­tion to buy was in­cluded in the lease af­ter three coun­cil­lors wanted the city to ex­plore build­ing the tower it­self.

Coun. Michael Oshry lob­bied for the clause orig­i­nally, then pushed coun­cil to drive a harder bar­gain be­fore agree­ing to take that clause out, Knack said, cred­it­ing the soon-to-be-for­mer coun­cil­lor for this new $5 mil­lion.

Knack said he voted against the lease deal in 2013, but by now there’s no way the city could buy its half.

With prop­erty val­ues near the arena ris­ing, it could cost $500 mil­lion.

With LRT, recre­ation cen­tre and roads, it has too many other in­fra­struc­ture projects need­ing in­vest­ment, he said.

“It just wasn’t go­ing to work out.”

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