What it could be.
A gathering space that defines the centre of a growing city.
Every great city has something in common - the people who live there and the places where they gather. Parks and squares are places people gather to enjoy life outdoors. From Hyde Park in London to Central Park in New York; these world famous parks naturally draw people together. Closer to home, Stanley Park and Olympic Plaza are two examples of intentionally created public spaces. They look very different but their purpose is the same; to provide space for people to gather and enjoy life outdoors.
New York’s Central Park was born out of its residents’ desire for an outdoor oasis that provided some relief from the chaos of a city that quadrupled its population between 1821 and 1855 (34 years). Airdrie has tripled its population in 14 years (21,979 in 2002 to 61,842 in 2016). The land owned by the City of Airdrie in the downtown area provides a unique opportunity to create a public square that welcomes people to engage in a wide range of activities and uses; encourages a diversity of ages and balance of genders; sees people present in groups and alone and, is well used at all different times of the day and week, even during poor weather conditions. All key attributes of a great public space.
Airdrie Main Street Square Real Estate Inc. – a smart idea.
In 2004 the City of Airdrie created a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, Airdrie Main Street Square Real Estate Inc. (AMSQ), to manage its real estate holdings. AMSQ purchased a grocery store and an adjacent strip mall on Main St SE. The grocery store was renovated to become the current City Hall and the retail spaces are leased to various businesses and the Airdrie Public Library. Within this prudent business structure, City Hall, the library and the retail businesses pay rent to AMSQ, which then pays a dividend back to the City of Airdrie. In fact, almost $5 million in dividends over the past ten years.
Airdrie Main Street Square Real Estate Inc. is managed by a Board of Directors whose members include all current Council members, the City Manager and the Director of Finance. Its operational functions are supported by various City of Airdrie employees who provide part-time leasing operations, financial and contract support.
As the City tripled in size over 14 years, the feasibility of using the AMSQ land holdings to generate greater economic return and satisfy the demand for library and City facility space became an idea that required some research.
Planning for the future.
In 2015, the AMSQ Board commissioned a Civic Centre Master Plan with one key objective: to create a comprehensive plan for a future Civic Centre that includes City Hall, a library, commercial retail, office space and open gathering spaces.
O2 Planning + Design were retained to produce a Civic Centre Master Plan that illustrates a phased approach to achieving Council’s vision for the Civic Centre and provides advice and opportunities for the implementation for the vision.
Nyhoff Architecture produced the architectural concepts and Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. produced a Commercial Retail Feasibility Study and a Financial Analysis that examined the potential scale, costs, and revenues associated with the proposed Civic Centre.
The AMSQ Board leads the way!
Guiding the process.
May 25, 2015 - AMSQ Board members participate in a Visioning Session for the project. They create a Vision Statement and Key Principles to guide the project.
October 6, 2015 - Four civic centre concepts presented by the project team.
October 19, 2015 - Board input incorporated into four civic centre concepts and financial analysis added to the revised concepts. The Board chooses Option B as the preferred concept.
November 3, 2015 - Option B phasing sequencing with tentative timelines presented. The Board approves the sequencing model and requests more detailed financial reports.
December 1, 2015 - Option B presented with more detailed costing and phasing models. The Board endorses the final Civic Centre Master Plan and recommends in principle to move forward with Phase I and Phase II of the Plan.