Proposed downtown performance center could give life to 99st shopping district.


EDMONTON - A performing arts centre being proposed beside the Epcor Tower should anchor a “cultural spine” along a 99th Street shopping district, organizers say.

The centre would feature a covered galleria courtyard surrounded by retail, commercial and cultural activities north of 103A Avenue, performing arts centre foundation chairwoman Dianne Kipnes says.

There would also be theatres and possibly community and educational spaces, she said.

“It’s envisioned that the galleria-Edmonton performing arts centre would neighbour the new Royal Alberta Museum,” she told council’s executive committee Monday.

“The preferred location ties into the civic precinct master plan and would complete 99th Street as the cultural spine north from Jasper Avenue and the river valley.”

Committee member Irving Kipnes said shops and restaurants could spring up in front of the courthouse, the Winspear Centre, Chancery Hall and other buildings along 99th Street.

“Whyte Avenue is the perfect model in this city. It has contiguous shops, it’s what gets people on the street and keeps them there.”

The foundation aims to raise $50 million in “seed money” for the project, although a cost estimate isn’t ready yet, he said.

The group has been given $100,000 by the city to develop a business case due in early 2013 for going ahead with the centre.

“There’s a great demand for space, and no money,” Kipnes said.

“Theatre groups can’t afford a lot. We’re doing it on the basis that theatre groups won’t be choked with the cost of operation.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel said he likes the idea of an arts centre, which would be aimed more at dance and multicultural groups rather than simply competing with existing theatrical institutions such as the Citadel.

“It won’t detract from our current arts facilities.”

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Nathan Clark

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