Frequently Asked Questions
At the City Council meeting on September 19, citizens submitted more than 112 questions to the AMSQ board about The Square project. While the AMSQ Board had hoped to provide answers within 48 hours, due to the volume of questions received, additional time is required. We will endeavor to respond to the questions posed as soon as possible.
1. What is a conceptual design?
In architectural design, there are numerous steps in the design process: research, conceptualization, feasibility assessment, establishing design requirements, preliminary design, detailed design, production planning and tool design, and production. The Square is at the conceptual design stage. It involves taking a vision and putting that vision and idealistic elements into a drawing so people can see the vision.
The Square is a concept, not a finalized plan. As the Board works through the process from concept to detailed design, the Board is committed to working with stakeholders - residents, Library board, local arts groups that would use the proposed space.
2. Why does Airdrie need The Square?
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.
3. Why now?
The Square - a smart investment for Airdrie right now.
Meets the needs of a growing city
The Square is designed to meet the needs of our young, rapidly growing city, with a larger library, more space for the staff required to provide City services and programs and an opportunity to draw business into the downtown core.
A balanced approach
The plan is phased and easily scalable to respond to financial constraints or opportunities.
Low cost of borrowing
With interest rates as low as they possibly can go, it’s an ideal time to borrow necessary financing.
Lower construction costs
Forecast construction costs for 2016 are expected to drop by 13% from 2015 costs.
Ready for potential sources of project funding
During low points in the economy, it’s typical for governments to step in and provide stimulus funding. The infusion of grant dollars from both the federal and provincial governments is a means to create opportunity for jobs and boost economic activity.
Both federal and provincial governments have released 2016/17 budgets and both levels of government have planned for increased levels of stimulus funds. Planned public infrastructure projects, that are ready to go, tend to be in the best position to take full advantage of stimulus funds.
4. When will The Square be completed?
The Square is being developed as a four phase, ten year project.
5. How do I learn more about leasing a space in The Square?
Lease discussions have not begun at this time. Join our email list to receive updates on The Square.
6. What is Airdrie Main Street Square Real Estate Inc.?
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. Airdrie Main Street Square purchased a grocery store and an adjacent strip mall on Main Street SE.
The grocery store was renovated to become the current City Hall and the retail spaces are leased to various businesses and the Airdrie Library. City Hall, the library and the retail businesses pay rent to AMSQ, which then pays a dividend to the City of Airdrie.
7. Who manages AMSQ?
Airdrie Main Street Square 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.
8. Why has the AMSQ board not released the full financial projections?
AMSQ is the City’s Municipal Controlled Corporation. Cities create corporations of this nature to find different ways to deliver community services and in some cases, these companies generate income that contributes to City budgets. The activities of these corporations are not subject to the same type of disclosure that the municipality is subject to and as such, the budget and financial statements are often not made public.
The AMSQ board hired Ernst & Young to prepare a financial analysis for the development of The Square. According to their projections, when you take into account the operating costs along with the construction over a 25 year span, the total cost is $165 million. However, it is important to understand the whole picture meaning we need to look at the revenue it will bring in over those 25 years as well which is $211 million. Ernst & Young’s financial analysis also looks at cash flow before and after debt servicing. Over the course of 25 years, cash flow after debt serving is negative $26 million; however, it is important to keep in mind that retail office space is expected to have a value of $41 million.
The AMSQ board wanted to ensure that financial information could be received by the public in a meaningful way, and summarized the report rather than releasing the complete pro forma document prepared by Ernst & Young. We are in discussions with Ernst & Young about releasing the full financial projections shortly.
9. What if the City doesn’t proceed with building The Square?
The drivers behind building The Square are as follows:
The community need for a new library was identified and City Council approved design dollars for a new library in 2015.
The City’s ten year capital plans include the need to accommodate additional space in City Hall plus address downtown parking needs.
AMSQ as the owner of leased property is responsible for ensuring their structures are maintained and renewed.
Developing the vision and commissioning a conceptual master plan for The Square resulted from these community needs. The Square represents the potential to meet community desires in an innovative way. A vibrant downtown supported by municipal government often is an excellent catalyst for economic rejuvenation.
If The Square doesn’t proceed, the community needs identified above will remain. City Council and Administration will need to determine a different method of addressing library space, City Hall space and the downtown parking issue.
10. What are the benefits of building The Square instead of just a new library?
The benefit for building The Square firstly comes back to delivering on the vision of Council through the Airdrie One Sustainability Plan of a vibrant, caring community rich in urban amenities and opportunities for everyone. We value a healthy, sustainable environment connecting people and places. Council wants to ensure that the City’s downtown is an active gathering place for residents.
AMSQ corporate was created from a model that combines civic space and commercial space in order to lessen the tax burden. The Square redevelopment makes it possible to continue on with this model in a way that takes into account that the City will quickly become a community of 80,000 people. The model will continue to provide a means to produce income, encourage partnership between government and business and work to stimulating economic activity. Discussions have commenced with various educational institutions to explore potential inclusion in The Square.
The envisioned development also has the great benefit of being phaseable and scaleable. The intent is to build to the vision over a course of ten years. Plans call to tackle the first two phases first and this will allow the City’s immediate needs to be addressed (i.e. library, civic space and parking). Another benefit of moving forward in this manner gives the added functionality to build a downtown gathering place for the community.
Remaining forward thinking and proactive is a noted benefit of The Square. During times of economic hardship, federal and provincial government bodies attempt to stimulate activity by offering grant dollars. Such actions are aimed at trying to grow the economy and create jobs. The City intends to apply for any potential grant dollars. Governments often look for communities that are ready to proceed; it is often a determining factor to awarding grant dollars. Any additional infusion of federal or provincial grant dollars will be a benefit to this community.
11. I’ve heard there will be a 12% tax increase - is that true?
There is no indication in the budget planning that indicates a 12% increase. An expanded civic facility will necessitate increased operating costs, but we anticipate the revenue from lease holders will help offset these costs.
12. Why was it an invite-only for the open house on September 8?
The City of Airdrie follows a world recognized public engagement model where stakeholder groups are identified and met with in various ways and stages. The business community is one such stakeholder and our public are another incredibly important stakeholder. We have an open house planned for our residents on September 27 from 5-8 p.m. at City Hall and welcome emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. That being said, the AMSQ board is in discussions about removing The Square proposal from the October 3 council meeting agenda in order to permit a longer public engagement period.
13. Is this really a priority? Airdrie needs a hospital and more schools.
When thinking about the critical infrastructure that makes up a community, it’s important to be aware of the responsibilities of each level of government – municipal, provincial and federal.
Hospitals and healthcare: A responsibility of the provincial government. Where and when hospitals are allocated as well as the funding to pay for them comes from the provincial government. City Council and City staff have been lobbying the provincial government for better health care in Airdrie for years. Funding comes from the province and all decisions are made by Alberta Health Services which the City has no control over, except to lobby and support initiatives like the Airdrie Health Foundation.
Education and schools: A responsibility of the provincial government. Schools and the funding to pay for them comes from the provincial government. Albertans in all communities elect members to school boards which are overseen by the Province. The elected trustees (usually elected during the same election as a local City Council) make decisions on schools, education, and how funding dollars are spent. The City sets aside land for schools through our development process, but does not pay for or contribute to the cost of what goes on that land, whenever that may be.
14. Is it a conflict of interest when the board is determining its own expansion?
City staff do not believe it is a conflict of interest. Regardless of the existence of AMSQ, City Council is ultimately responsible for approving any capital project that would see an expansion to City Hall.
Civic needs are determined through the city’s budget and planning process and, once approved by City Council, executed in accordance with Council’s direction. The City created a Municipal Controlled Corporation as the vehicle to deliver community service and meet civic needs on the City’s downtown property. AMSQ is aware of the City’s downtown civic requirements because of this mandate.
15. I understand that there is a vacancy on the Board of Airdrie Main Street Square Real Estate Inc. I am very interested in submitting my name for consideration for this position. To whom would I submit an application?
AMSQ is a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of Airdrie with one shareholder – the City of Airdrie. Technically, there is not a vacancy on the AMSQ Board. The shareholder, City of Airdrie represented by City Council, named their Board of Directors in January 2016.
The AMSQ Articles of Incorporation provide for a Board of Directors between 1 and 15 individuals. Currently there are 9 Board members – City Council, City Manager, City Director of Finance. There are no public members on the AMSQ Board of Directors. Should the shareholder, City of Airdrie represented by City Council, wish to increase the size of the Board of Directors, they may do so by calling a special shareholders’ meeting and appointing additional Directors to the Board.
You would submit your application to the AMSQ Board, c/o Legislative Services at the City of Airdrie.
16. What is the process for selection for members of the Airdrie Main Street Square board?
City Council set the Board of Directors when AMSQ was first established. The Board of Directors have been re-elected from year to year without the composition of the Board being changed.
17. Who would be evaluating potential members?
Should the shareholder, City of Airdrie represented by City Council, decide to change or add to the composition of the Board of Directors, the shareholder, City of Airdrie represented by City Council, would evaluate potential members.
18. How long has this position been vacant?
The two positions for members of the public were vacant for the first year the Board of Directors was established. The Board of Directors serving at year end were then re-elected. The vacant positions were, in effect, lost at that time. The Board of Directors has been re-elected year over year.
19. Many other City boards have approximately half of their directors made up of members of the public. Why is this not the case for AMSQ?
The Municipal Government Act sets out the rules by which Council creates their various Boards, Committees and Commissions. The majority of Council’s Boards, Committees and Commissions are advisory (Municipal Police Advisory Board, Community Services Advisory Board, Environmental Advisory Board). There are a few that are approving (Municipal Planning Commission), governing (Municipal Library Board) or quasi-judicial (Assessment Review Board and Subdivision and Development Appeal Board). Council values the unique knowledge, skill set and contributions public members bring to their various Boards, Committees and Commissions. Council, where possible, likes to have a mix of public and Council members on their Boards, Committees and Commissions. In most instances, Council will appoint two Council members to a Board, Committee or Commission resulting in public members holding the majority of seats. The Municipal Government Act, however, sometimes sets different rules; for instance, no Council members can sit on an Assessment Review Board.
20. Do the bylaws and constating documents actually require outside representation on the board of directors?
No, they do not.
21. Would you please provide the qualification of the other board members of AMSQ?
Council members sit on the AMSQ Board of Directors because they were elected to Council. Similar to the relationship between City Council and City Staff, City Staff provide expertise and recommendations to the AMSQ Board of Directors. The President or CEO is required to carry out the directions of the Board. Similar to his role with City Council, the City Manager sits as the CEO of AMSQ. The Director of Finance brings her financial expertise to the Board.
22. Is it correct that there is one City employee that controls all leasing, rent collection and property management services for AMSQ?
There is one City employee who looks after leasing, rent collection and property management for AMSQ. This employee takes direction from the AMSQ Board of Directors and is subject to oversight from the Director of Community Safety.
23. Is AMSQ responsible for determining when expansions will occur to City Hall?
No. The AMSQ Board has been working to develop a concept for the property in downtown Airdrie that responds to the City’s 10-year capital plan, master planning documents and various citizen input. Through its budget and planning process, City Council determines when expansions will occur to City Hall.
24. Will Council commit to adding members of the public to the board prior to advancing any of the proposed development?
Council has previously indicated a desire to add public representation to the AMSQ Board. A formal commitment of this nature would need to be discussed and formalized at a meeting of City Council as shareholder of AMSQ.
25. Will the City consider a public plebiscite on the issue?
The decision as to whether a plebiscite will be held on the issue, or to delay a decision on this issue, rests solely with City Council.
26. Are you able to provide all of the information requested by the public at least a week prior to the public hearing on September 27?
The meeting on September 27 is an open house to share the concept of The Square with the general public. It is not a public hearing. It will not be possible to provide answers to the questions one week in advance due the volume of questions received.
27. Will you consider stopping this project entirely and commit to the library expansion based on what is needed and available funding?
City Council, through the capital budget process, has formalized their commitment to expansion of the library. Further, Council, at the September 19 meeting, committed to further public consultation. The decision on project financing, which will result in the project moving forward or stopping, is scheduled to occur in the new year. Council may adjust this timing or their decision regarding the project at any time.
28. I am interested in learning what the true costs of the Proposed Main Street Square development are? I have heard that the construction costs are estimated at $85 million, but what are the true costs?
The type of costing prepared for the Square at this point is at a conceptual stage. This is typical for visioning and master plan type work. AMSQ engaged the services of Ernst and Young to prepare the financial analysis. The consultant’s analysis has determined construction costs over the course of the four phased master plan to be $83MM. The construction cost for phase I and phase II is $48.6MM.
AMSQ board considered moving forward with phase I and phase II in order to meet the more immediate needs and prepared a capital plan for 2016 to 2019. In addition to the $48.6MM construction cost noted above, three other cost elements have been projected as follows: initial design costs of $2MM, underground servicing of $1MM. As well, delivery of the project will require functions such as project/construction management and a range of other specialized services, which have been estimated at $976,590.
The total cost to deliver the first two phases over four years is $52.7MM. Of this total $48.8MM is planned to be budgeted within AMSQ budgets and $3.9MM within the City of Airdrie budget for the cost of improving the roadway. The rationale behind where the projected costs reside is aligned with which corporate entity will hold the ownership over the asset.
Please be aware that the refinement of costs occurs at each stage of a construction project. A project will flow form conceptual stage to pre-design stage, to design and construction. With each stage come decisions related to the components and programming desired and as such, costs become more and more specific.
29. How much is the value associated with the current building and land?
The land has a cost value of $3,600,000; the building has a cost value of $2,000,000. The net book value as at December 31, 2015 is $4,975,000.
30. What is the cost to purchase the church land and build the new church?
Negotiations remain ongoing with regards to the church lands and any details must remain confidential. It is typical for the City of Airdrie to negotiate property deals at fair market value. This allows the City to remain fair and equitable with all sectors of the community when looking to acquire needed properties.
31. If the Airdrie Main Street Square Board do not have all the information, who does and why is it not accurately being disclosed?
All information requests to date at a Board level have been met. The Board continues to meet regularly and can continue to request information.
32. Normally in the case of a commercial lease, the lessee (the church) pays for all interior finishings and fixtures. Is this the case? Or is the City providing this to the church as well?
Negotiations are currently ongoing with the church and therefore must remain confidential. The aim is to negotiate an agreement that meets the needs of both parties, is fair, equitable and in line with business best practice.
33. What is the lease rate for religious groups?
As current operations stand for AMSQ, separate lease rates for religious groups do not exist and lease rates are negotiated separately with tenants. When leases are renewed, market rates are examined and used as a basis for negotiations. AMSQ looks to remain competitive with the office and retail space markets in Airdrie.
34. I’ve heard from the City employee that the preferred lease rate for the City and the library will be $20 a square foot, but that the church will be paying less than this. Is this true?
Within the financial model, office space, library and city hall are projected at the same rate of $20 a square foot. As noted above, negotiations are currently on going with the church and therefore must remain confidential. The aim is to negotiate an agreement that meets the needs of both parties, is fair, equitable and in line with business best practice.
35. Under what circumstances would the City give a specific group a lower rate than its own taxpayers?
The Square concept provides opportunity to establish a variety of partnerships. These partnerships can take the form of government to government, government to community groups or not for profits, or government to private business. In each case the financial and intrinsic benefits are weighed for the value it brings to the community and furthering the strategic direction of the City of Airdrie. For example, the City has various short and long term lease arrangement with Alberta Health, RCMP and a number of community not-for-profit groups.
36. Can you confirm if the leases are “triple net” leases and whether the tenants were responsible for the cost of repairs and upgrades?
AMSQ tenants are responsible for property taxes and common costs. The tenants are responsible for their individual leasehold improvements.
37. Can you please tell us if all the tenants have always paid the full rent when due under the leases?
AMSQ has maintained excellent relations with its leaseholders. It has been a very rare occurrence where amounts due were not paid or paid late. To the best of our recollection, there has not been a time where legal action was required to collect rents. The corporate’s bad debts are less than $10,000 since establishment.
38. Can you please confirm the purchase price that was paid by the City for the original Main Street Square?
AMSQ was purchased for $5,600,000 on September 9, 2003. AMSQ was purchased with a $4MM debenture and $1.6MM in cash. The cash was drawn from City of Airdrie reserves. AMSQ entered into a loan agreement to pay the City of Airdrie $5.6MM in total. The City of Airdrie debenture will be paid off in 2017; the AMSQ loan will be paid off in 2023.
39. The City has stated that it has received approximately $5 Million in dividends from AMSQ – is that correct?
Since 2004, AMSQ declared and paid a total of $4,894,000 in dividends to the City of Airdrie. The dividends are a revenue source that comes into the City of Airdrie budget. It is used to offset the costs in the Operating Fund or, in other words, to offset the cost of providing service to the community. The dividends help to keep tax rates low.
40. If the expansion to city hall was to take place based on The Square proposal, what additional costs will be incurred in staffing and operating this new facility? This project appears to double the size of the current City Hall. Can we expect expenditures to double as well?
Having space for civic employees is a cost associated with operating a city. Yes, additional space will result in higher expenses; however, some additional lease revenue is projected as well. Space will be required somewhere. Approximately one year ago, in order to deal with overcrowding in City Hall, 60 City Hall employees were moved the Municipal Policing Building.
The first two phases will see City Hall proposed to expand from 35,112 square feet to 46,274 square feet giving an additional 11,162 square feet. The new space will allow for the sixty staff members to move back to the downtown location. Freeing up the space once again at the Municipal Policing Building will give opportunity for additional leasable space for the expanding RCMP operations. Phase III and IV of the master plan look to create another 34,424 square feet at City Hall. This will only occur if the city grows to a size that warrants the space. In 2004 the City commissioned a facility study. The study looks to the current and future needs for City buildings, operational and office space. The planned square footages have been drawn from this study.
41. The Square project has proposed to house more city staff under one roof. What synergies, economies of scale and efficiencies will taxpayers experience as a result of this project?
When determining departments that are housed together, work function and level of interaction with the public are considered. Locating departments that provide face-to-face services for the public are grouped together to provide a one-stop shop. Residents can pay utilities, taxes, purchase dog licenses, meet planning and engineering staff, apply for permits and schedule inspections all in one place. Keeping staff from the same departments in the same building optimizes shared resources, effectiveness and improves collaboration. The same benefits are realized when departments that work together on a daily basis are located close to each other.
42. Have any city staff taken time from their regular assigned duties to help prepare The Square proposal? If yes, what is your estimate of the cost to taxpayers to provide these services?
The operations of AMSQ are supported by City staff, and as such, the corporation pays the City of Airdrie for the services. AMSQ annual budgets include estimates for the personnel time needed. For example, a full time staff member is allocated to deal with leases and tenants; accounting, financial and management is also included. These costs are covered by lease revenue generated by the corporation.
Although City staff does not track each and every hour spent on AMSQ work and The Square, staff time charged back to the corporation seems reasonable to date. Future work on the Square will need different types of staffing services and budgets will address the costs, allocating the appropriate amounts to each of the two corporations. A significant portion of work for the Square concept was performed by consultants.
Working on AMSQ duties including what was required by The Square project is part of City staff’s regularly assigned duties.
43. What the expenditures to date, in dollar figures, including all consultants?
The expenses to date amount to approximately $233,000. This includes consultants Ernst and Young (retail feasibility study and financial analysis) 02Planing & Design (Civic Centre Master plan) Nyhoff Architecture (feasibility study), Brinston & Sentis Engineering (Civic Centre deep servicing), Switchback Creative (website design and development), legal fees, and small costs for a few events.
44. We understand the Veterans Fire Hall was over budget. Could you clarify this?
Veterans Fire Hall was conceptually estimated in 2012 for $3,974,200, which was revised to $3,891,900 in 2013. Design changes were made, and in 2014 Council approved a budget of $3,649,300. These budget amounts were determined on the basis of constructing a fire house that was similar in size and functionality to the the recently built Kings Heights fire hall. As the project progressed, staff worked with Alberta Health Service to find a new location as their current (at the time) lease was expiring at the temporary Bethany care location. Staff offered a possible inclusion into Veterans (pending Council’s approval) and the fire house concept was turned into a fire hall, which then added $2,338,200 to the budget, totaling $5,987,500. Council approved an amendment to the Veterans fire hall station in order to expand on the original building plan, build two additional bays and execute an agreement for lease payments from Alberta Health Services. The lease agreement spans a fifteen year period to recoup the entire costs associated with their tenancy.
The original fire house was a cost savings effort and was meant to be a temporary situation to span five to 10 years. As the city grew and the need increased, City staff expected to have to sell the house and hopefully make a profit and then build the required fire hall. Council wanted to make this a long term facility and not have to risk the sale and purchase of the fire house/hall situation. The project did not exceed the newly approved 2014 Council budget in the amount of $5,987,500.
The delivery of this fire hall is an example of how projects progress from stage to stage (conceptual (Fire Master Plan), pre-design, design and construct). At each stage cost projections are made. The City’s budget process and controls require council budget approval for projects prior to proceeding with the work.
45. By Civic Centre - do you mean the existing main street square buildings? Or just the small green space in front of the current City Hall?
When the Board uses the term Civic Centre, they are referring to all the buildings and the green space in front of City Hall.
46. Does this green space in this design meet the required 10% as in other developments?
As the project moves from concept to detailed design, all green space requirements will be met in the detailed design.
47. Would the completion of all phases as proposed mean that each and every building that is existing will be either completely destroyed or substantially modified - and the only one left alone is the ATB bank?
As noted above, the phases are conceptual only. The layout and design have not been completed, and will not be completed until stakeholders have been engaged in the development of a detailed design.
48. Your plan is confusing about whether you intend to also replace City Hall. The labels all call it a “new” City Hall and not an expanded City Hall. Are you prepared to detail your plans regarding the City Hall building?
The proposed changes to City Hall are conceptual. Detailed plans will be created during the process of moving from concept to detailed design.
49. Is it correct you are purchasing the Lutheran Church for $1.8 million dollars (plus)?
AMSQ and the Lutheran Church have negotiated a fair market value for property. As the transaction has not been completed, the purchase and sale price is confidential.
50. It is correct that you will not use the Lutheran Church building – but you will simply be demolishing it immediately?
The conceptual design shows a redevelopment of the church lands that will include a retail commercial building as well as a church. However, this could change during the process of moving from concept to detailed design.
51. Will you please provide a copy of the building blueprints to show the expansion plan?
As noted above, The Square is a concept only. The detailed design has not been completed and blueprints for detailed design do not exist. These will not be completed until all stakeholders have been involved in the development of a detailed design.
52. If AMSQ was purchased so that the library and existing City hall could move into the existing buildings over time as needed – and the current goal outlined in your design principles is to use existing buildings – isn’t this current plan completion contradictory to all of this?
Over time all investments, including real estate investments, should be reviewed to ensure the investment’s intent is being fulfilled. At this time, the AMSQ Board believes it is time for redevelopment of the property to create space for a new and larger library, an expanded City Hall, new retail space and a gathering space for residents and community groups.
53. Are there plans to narrow Main Street?
The conceptual design for the Square includes sketches of Main Street. The images are for illustrative purposes only, and are not in any way a detailed design.
54. Can you provide a copy of the constating documents for AMSQ (articles, bylaws, resolutions, etc.)?
The Certificate and Articles of Incorporation are public documents and will be posted to the website shortly. Discussions will need to occur with the AMSQ Board of Directors as to whether the General Bylaws will be released publicly. As noted previously, due to the confidential nature of some parts of the minutes (resolutions) of the Board of Directors, they will not be released publicly.
55. Is there a reason that the directors listed with corporate registry do not match the directors as listed on the Square documentation?
AMSQ is up to date in its filings with Corporate Registry, and there should be no discrepancy. City staff will look into this with the City of Airdrie’s lawyer. The most current filing will be posted to the website shortly.
56. Is AMSQ the only Board related to the City that does not have any one single member of the public on the board?
That is correct. As noted in question 18, the City has many different types of Boards, Committees and Commissions. The Boards, Committees and Commissions established by City Council, primarily by bylaw, all have public members. The rules or governing legislation for many of these Boards is established by the Municipal Government Act. AMSQ is different as it is incorporated under The Business Corporations Act of the Province of Alberta. It does not have any public members on it at this time.
57. If I understand correctly, Councillor Hunter is a property manager and I know that Mayor Brown has property management experience, but does any other member of the board have actual property management experience?
Councillor Hunter does have property management experience. Mayor Brown and Deputy-Mayor Hegg have minor exposure to property management through experience with personal property. The others Councillors do not.
58. What qualifications and selection criteria were used in determining the city staff and consultants that would be used on the development of this project?
The City staff that were selected to sit on The Square steering committee represented a cross section of City staff. The areas that were represented were Corporate Properties, Finance, Community Services, Planning, Economic Development and Legislative Services.
Ernst & Young were selected through an open Request for Proposal competition in 2014. The selection criteria were cost, understanding and approach, ability, experience/work history, project timelines. They were hired to complete the Corporate Facilities Plan that among other facilities included City Hall and the future core.
O2 Planning & Design were selected through an open Request for Proposal competition to prepare the Civic Centre Master Plan for AMSQ. Selection criteria were proposal content, understanding and approach, ability, experience/work history and proposal cost. Nyhoff Architecture was retained by O2 Planning & Design as a sub-contractor to support the development of the Master Plan.
59. When was the request for proposal made public for the needed consultants on this project?
Ernst & Young were hired by the City of Airdrie to complete the Corporate Facilities Plan through the public Request for Proposal process. The information from this plan fed into the Civic Centre Master Plan. Ernst & Young were hired to refine the information from the Corporate Facilities Plan as it related to the Civic Centre Master Plan and were further hired to complete a Commercial Retail Feasibility Study to determine the appropriate commercial real estate absorption rate for use in determining financial considerations for the Civic Centre Master Plan.
O2 Planning & Design was hired by AMSQ to complete the Civic Centre Master Plan. Nyhoff Architecture were retained by O2 Planning & Design as a sub-contractor to provide architectural support to the development of the Master Plan.
Nyhoff Architecture was hired by the City of Airdrie through a sole source process to assist with the incidental work related to this project that was not included under the Statement of Work for competition outlined below.
A competition on behalf of AMSQ for architectural services for the Civic Centre Project is currently open. The Request for Proposal was posted publicly on Alberta Purchasing Connection on August 25th 2016. The posting had clear notice to interested proponents that neither the project nor the budget had been approved and that any selection would be pending City Council approval. The intent of the competition at such an early stage was to allow the selected consultant to participate in public consultations and possible Council presentations and also to enable the Consultant to get the feel of public needs. An early selection would allow coordination between the selected consultant and Nyhoff Architecture. The competition closes on October 4, and a decision on whether to proceed beyond that point has not been made. In the event the RFP proceeds to an award, the award would be conditional, and the contract drafted with a Condition Precedent meaning that should the project and the budget not be approved by a certain date, the contract will cease to exist. At this point, no consultant has been hired or selected.
60. In the Plan posted to the Square website, you confirm that your number 1 priority - in the list of Design Principles - is to retain as much of the existing Civic Centre as possible - is this correct?
One of the design principles of the Civic Centre Master Plan included retaining as much of the existing civic centre as possible. The Square’s conceptual design incorporates much of the civic centre’s existing design by enhancing the spatial relationship between the library and city hall; by enhancing the open space as somewhere for the community to gather and hold events; by retaining the retail component to build a destination for residents and visitors alike.
61. We have heard that many of the current buildings in main street square are in such disrepair that they cannot be renovated –is that correct?
When AMSQ purchased the grocery store and mall in 2003 renovations were made to convert the grocery store into City Hall and create space for the library. Since that time regular lifecycle maintenance has been completed on the buildings. The Civic Centre Master Plan proposes a renovation to City Hall in Phase 2 and an expansion in Phase 3. The proposed redevelopment of the strip mall provides space for an expanded library and enhanced retail opportunities.
62. Did AMSQ let this property get into such a state of disrepair that it now has to be torn down?
The buildings have benefited from lifecycle maintenance and with further investment the buildings remaining economic life could be extended. The redevelopment of the retail units is not due to dis-repair but rather a way to create space for an expanded library and enhanced retail opportunities.
63. Can you please confirm for me that when purchased, the properties (at least City Hall and the library) were in such good shape – those could be renovated?
AMSQ purchased the grocery store and strip mall in 2003. An investment was made to renovate the grocery store into city hall and a portion of the strip mall into a library.
64. Will you provide rent rolls for each of the tenants since the property was purchase?
This information is confidential and will not be provided.
65. Can you tell us if all tenants have been third party tenants, and in no way related to any current director, employee or councillor of the City of Airdrie?
There were at least two tenants who were related to employees of the City of Airdrie. These tenants were treated the same as any other third party tenant.
66. The original expansion plan for AMSQ was to utilize the existing buildings consisting of Main Street Square only for the needed expansion of either City Hall or the library, and in fact, that is exactly what has happened in the past, is that correct?
Over time all investments, including real estate investments, should be reviewed to ensure the investment’s intent is being fulfilled. At this time, the AMSQ Board believes it is time to redevelop the property to create space for a new and larger library, an expanded City Hall, new retail space and a gathering space for residents and community groups.
67. One portion of this expansion plan was the renovation of the current City Hall from a grocery store – is that correct?
Yes, that was part of the original expansion plan and the underlying purpose of the purchase.
68. What is the life span of this new city hall? Will it need to be replaced in the future and how is this determined?
The life span of a newly constructed city hall would be in the range of ~40-50 years, based on appropriate lifecycle maintenance, refits and its ability to accommodate future demand.
The life span of a building is typically measured by:
1. The age of the property and when it was acquired
2. The amount of cyclical recapitalization spent to date (including mid-life refits/retrofits, etc.)
3. Remaining economic life of the asset
4. Demand forecast
5. Capital plan
Before a decision is made to renovate or redevelop any building a full review of the building’s physical and functional condition must be completed.
69. What was the cost of any needed upgrades to the library and City Hall?
City of Airdrie paid $5.6MM for the initial purchase of AMSQ. In order to ready the inside of the City Hall building, the city’s capital budget in 2003 included $3MM in leasehold improvements. A combination of grants and reserves was used to cover this cost. The Airdrie Public library incurred approximately $800,000 in leasehold improvement costs. The library’s renovation was funded with a combination of provincial grant, City of Airdrie grant and some general donations.
70. Airdrie Main Street Square issued a design work Request for Proposal. Why does the RFP indicate that the project cost for Phase I and II is $52MM when the Square Website indicates a cost of $48MM?
The information included in the RFP is meant to give a holistic idea of what the tendered project involves. As such, the overall work that was contemplated included the necessary improvements to the roadway adjacent to the square was included.
This website indicates a cost of $48.8MM. Accounting practices direct that the value of the roadway be included within City of Airdrie financial records. As such, Administration planned for the capital improvements to remain with the ten year capital plan. The cost of the roadway was projected to be $3,883,043.
Therefore, the calculation $48.8 plus $3.8MM works out to be $52.6MM. Please see frequently asked question number 28 for further information.