Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bisiness Owners Take Train Pass

Slater and Albert streets will be so cramped in some spots with a north/south light rail line that city officials have asked some building owners if they'd be interested in housing passenger stations on their ground floors.

According to the city's request for proposals for the light rail line, there are locations on Albert and Slater where "it is difficult to accommodate the waiting area, the boarding area and the pedestrian sidewalk." The space is even more limited for bus stations, the RFP says.

So, city officials asked more than a dozen building owners and managers, where bus and rail stations are likely to be built, whether they would be interested in leasing ground floor space to the city for "a waiting area and possible concession uses."

There were no takers.

Rejean Chartrand, the city's director of economic development and strategic projects, said the offer was made on the remote chance that one of the owners would be able to or interested in doing so.

"We didn't have high expectations, but we offered it because we figured that the city would have an interest if there was any interest from the private sector guys," Chartrand explained.

Several business and property owners on Slater and Albert streets have been vocal in their opposition to having both buses and light rail on their streets. The unhappy businesspeople banded together last year to form a coalition to make their voices heard at City Hall.


All of which makes the need for the city -- and the consortia vying for the contract to build the system -- to make local building owners comfortable with the design.

Building owners and managers are looking for flexibility when it comes to the design of the bus or rail stations that will be built in front of their buildings. Some want them to incorporate architectural elements of the buildings themselves.

"There's a basic design that the station is supposed to have," one landlord told the Sun. "The difficulty we have is we don't want to have a cookie cutter and that's a general consensus of most of the landlords on these two streets."

Chartrand pointed out the city has had consultations with the owners and managers since well before the procurement process began. The owners were also able to meet with each of the three consortia vying for the contract to express their concerns and expectations.

Chartrand said the stations will have a "common element" and "theme" but "the look and feel we would try to match with the facade (of the building) as much as we could."


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