YXE downtown metamorphosis

Build it and they will come, at least Saskatoon’s City Council hopes so.

As they endeavour to bring a new downtown arena to fruition it’s worth noting the changes that have already taken place in the core.

And how the new arena will only thrive in it.

Avant-garde meets functional

The Remai Modern, though not everyone’s cup of tea architecturally speaking, was the first kid on the block for River Landing.

This 124,670 SF facility opened in 2017.

In addition to its thoughtful arts programming the Remai has become a brag worthy event centre for corporate and private functions.

They, along with Persephone Theatre, are fantastic stewards of the River Landing development and have surely served as part of attraction for new business around them.

The area is alive with activity year-round and remains accessible to everyone in the community.

Sidenote: let’s hope it doesn’t take another 30 years to begin the second phase of the river shore on the west side of Idylwyld Drive.

Big city vibes

It’s almost hard to imagine what the long-time barren parcel Y looked like before the new towers on River Landing.

The big city vibes of this multi-use site are truly astonishing.

A residential condo development, the Alt Hotel and Nutrien head office all call this area home now.

You can’t beat the views out of these buildings which now anchor downtown as if they’ve always existed.

Patience rewarded

Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The new central library project dates back to 2009 if you can believe it.

In 2017 the City began meaningful operational planning on how this would look.

Through community consultation (2018) and building the business case (2019) the design process finally took shape in earnest in 2020.

Demolition on the site is happening right now and the building is slated to open in 2026.

The City is also working to sell the current Frances Morrison downtown library as the new site is full steam ahead.

Journey to the District

Bring on the potential Downtown Event and Entertainment District I say.

A modern event centre on either of the proposed sites is exactly what this City needs to keep growing.

There has always been a lot of discussion regarding downtown residential density, which understandably affects commercial real estate viability.

It’s the chicken or the egg, in that you can’t have one without the other. So who steps up first?

The idea of an entertainment hub provides for improved transit and strengthened commercial business.

All of which would benefit a migration of residents to the core.

The impact of local dollars that stay in Saskatoon every time a concert, sporting event or convention is staggering.

Covid has killed any recent statistics to the impact of the aforementioned, but we know that visitors eat, stay in hotels and shop while in town.

You see this stated on occasion through bids such as the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

Though the bid ended up unsuccessful, the tourney was expected to attract 20,000 out of towners with a financial impact around $50 million for the province.

There was such an economic spin that Regina and Saskatoon teamed up to share in it.

So it’s important to remember that there’s more than enough for everybody and hockey ain’t the only thing that this rink is bringing to downtown.

Posted by Kelly Macsymic


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