Natalie Raczkowski, area sales manager for Westrich Pacific Corp., looks over the construction site where the company is developing new condos at 10238 103rd St.
Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Journal
"Our presales sold out almost the whole building," said area sales manager Natalie Raczkowski, speaking of the Ultima, a 199-unit tower going up at 10238 103rd St. being built by developer Westrich Pacific.
Nearly 75 per cent of the units were sold June 2, their first day of sales. "The response to the Ultima is why we are moving ahead so quickly with our Encore," she said.
"I wouldn't say (the proposed arena) was the main driver of sales, but it definitely helped," Raczkowski said. "We saw a great opportunity downtown. The arena was something we thought was a huge bonus."
Construction on the 32-storey Ultima started this week and is expected to be complete by spring 2015. Raczkowski said the company hopes to start construction for Encore next year.
Encore is being designed for more than 40 storeys, and would be the highest residential tower in Edmonton.
The downtown arena deal was thrown into jeopardy last week when city negotiators presented city council with a list of new requests from the Katz Group.
Oilers owner Daryl Katz has argued he needs a casino deal to give an additional source of revenue. If that doesn't come through, he says, he'll need a $6-million annual subsidy to pay for the arena and keep the Oilers in Edmonton.
Last week, councillors turned down that request, taken aback by what Coun. Tony Caterina described as requests for seven new concessions.
On Wednesday morning, the mayor's office sent Daryl Katz a formal letter inviting him or his representative to speak to city council directly in public and sort this out.
"If there's problems with (the deal) he's looking at, he needs to come forward and bring evidence to city council and to the citizens of Edmonton to show there needs to be a change to it," Mayor Stephen Mandel said Wednesday.
"All of us realize costs are going up. Very frankly, this should have been done two years ago. It's taking way too long. The negotiations have been arduous, difficult. We need to move forward quicker for all parties."
The arena has long been proposed as a catalyst for downtown development, but the area has been growing steadily on its own. Between 1998 and 2010, the number of people living downtown grew from 5,000 to nearly 13,000, according to Jim Taylor, executive director of the Downtown Business Association.
After presenting a report on the $4.8-billion possible development projects being planned for Edmonton's downtown over the next five years, he stressed the largest ones were not tied to the arena.
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