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Brampton Civic Centre 
41 George St, Brampton
Developer: City of Brampton


Brampton Civic Centre | ?m | 9s | City of Brampton | Zeidler

TOareaFan

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These were not part of the original poster's tour but they are integral parts of what is a long process of revitalization of a small downtown.

City Hall was/is important because it brought people to work downtown Brampton......this was a controversial decision because many wanted the "old" (70's vintage) Bramalea Civic Centre rehabbed and expanded to become the new City Hall.

On its own, City Hall has not proven to be a big catalyst to revitalization....in fact it might actually point out how important all 4 aspects I mentioned earlier are together. At 5 o'clock (for the most part) the workers here pile out of downtown to head back to their sub-division housing. So, after work, there remains little life downtown.

Across the street from City Hall is Gage Park. This gives people something to do and, as home to the best outdoor skating in the GTA, it brings people from outside the downtown. (it also answers the earlier question about the city hall, the park and the highway....these were all taken from the corner of Wellington and Main - "highway 10")......the last one shows the view looking north from outside of City Hall.
 

TOareaFan

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On the Way to the GO Station.

After leaving the Renaissance, I started heading up George Street to update the earlier pictures of the GO Train Station work.

It struck me that this picture, looking north towards George & Nelson Streets was an interesting look into the past. Contained in this picture are 3 significant buildings.

The dark brown office building to the left is one of the older office buildings in downtown.....it is a very dour building that perenially has had vacancy issues....to the right side of the building is the building built in the 80's that is also prone to vacancy. These buildings (IMO) are one of the reasons that no significant office projects have been proposed or built in the area....there is no evidence that tenants can be attracted. Given their proximity to the GO Station (the building to the right actually houses the bus terminal) two-way all day service actually makes these attractive locations for suburban office use.....lower cost than Mississauga/Toronto but with good access dynamics for workers.

The building in the middle of the pic was planned as a condo building in the late '80s by a developer who I believe is no longer with us. I think their name was Anaheim and they were western Canadian based. They built some towns and 3 storey walk-ups in the Hurontario/Bristol area of Mississauga and this hi-rise in downtown brampton. It did not sell well and before the building was finished it had been converted to a subsidized housing project. This building likely left a bad taste in the mouths of developers and might explain why it has taken so long for the condo craze to reach Brampton.

Anyway, nothing new in this pic just thought it was an interesting historical perspective.
 

FutureMayor

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Brampton City Hall Expansion

I'm in the area at least once a week for work, this would be a huge step forward for the city and downtown Brampton.

Louroz



Business leaders say now is the time to expand city hall

Thursday April 23 2009
By PAM DOUGLAS

Email this article Putting off city hall expansion to another day will cost taxpayers "tens of millions of dollars", a local lawyer and business leader has told his colleagues.

"We have, in my opinion, a very small window to get this done and save tens of millions of dollars for taxpayers," Neil Davis told the Annual General Meeting of the Brampton Downtown Development Corporation (BDDC) at the Rose Theatre Wednesday night.

"I think everybody agrees that at some point in time, we have to build this space," Davis said. "There is no better time."

Borrowing rates are very low, and construction costs have fallen for the first time in years, he said. The city has the option of borrowing internally, too, from the funds set up with the proceeds from the sale of Brampton Hydro years ago. However, Davis said external borrowing would not hurt the city's credit rating, since it would have the money invested in an asset- city hall.

Davis said the poor economy is also not an excuse to stop building infrastructure. He called it a "measure of hypocrisy" that the city would call on other levels of government to offer grants for infrastructure projects to boost local economies, but then refuse to spend its own money for a project that would do just that- boost the local economy, create jobs and build a stronger, more vibrant city.

"This is not discretionary spending," he stressed. "The city can't say, 'We don't want to grow'. The city's growing. It needs space."

The city needs 235,000 square feet of office space to house its current and future employees over the next 20 years.

A significant amount of that is needed right now, Davis asserted. City employees who should be under one roof at city hall are currently off-site occupying about 160,000 square feet, he said.

That arrangement costs the city millions of dollars, not just in the expense of leasing 52,000 square feet of that space, he said. It's in the time lost and cost of employees travelling from one site to another for meetings and to conduct other business. It's also in the millions that have been spent retro-fitting that outside office space to meet the city's needs, and it's money that will never be recouped.

"Brampton is at a crossroads," Davis told the group of approximately 60.

He said the city has fallen well behind other GTA cities in the amount of office space available per capita. Brampton is at 5.3 ft. per capita, compared to Oakville at 15.7, and Mississauga at 39.2.

"That's a failure. We have to do better," he said.

"A lot of our employment is driven by distribution facilities and manufacturing," he pointed out. "But the world is changing."

He said Brampton has to be "cutting-edge" and bring knowledge-based industry to the city.

He used Kitchener as an example of a city doing "remarkable things" in its downtown. The municipality is building parking infrastructure that has allowed for construction of several private-sector buildings, including a medical facility.

Kitchener has also set aside $110 million in a fund for other downtown projects, he said.

The BDDC is gearing up for city council's debate and decision June 24 on whether to expand city hall immediately, or wait.

City politicians will discuss the issue in advance of the June 24 meeting at an all-day workshop scheduled for this Monday at the Marriott Hotel. It is open to the public and members of the business community and the BDDC will be at the meeting.

City hall expansion has become a top priority for the business community in the downtown.

Davis stressed the importance of a healthy, vibrant downtown and told those gathered at the meeting that Brampton needs to strive to be more than "just a suburb."

"Some say, 'We've done enough for the downtown'," Davis told the group. "You don't do anything for the downtown. You do something for this city. It (the core) is our greatest public asset."

Davis tried to dispel what he called the "myths" about city hall expansion.

Included, the notion that the issue has not been studied. He enjoined a BDDC member to hold up a thick book- the result of the city's work with a consultant and a 2005 Request for Expressions of Interest that produced four possible locations/designs.

Among them, a proposal from Morguard, and one from original city hall builder Inzola Construction.

The Inzola proposal offered three separate options, one including all of the space needs to build-out, one including a library, and one offering just the current day space needs. All included retail space at street level and the cost was anywhere from just under $40 million to just under $100 million, including land acquisition, according to Inzola's John Cutruzzola.

In response to those who say building city hall originally in the core did nothing for the downtown, Davis pointed to the infrastructure that followed, including the YMCA with some 8,500 members, and he tallied up the $1/4 billion in private sector construction currently underway in the core- including various condominium projects- with another $400 million on the books.â?¨He said when the city invests in the downtown, it's like knocking over a domino, and it sparks much more private sector investment.

"From time to time we need to give the dominoes a nudge," he said. "I believe we are at that stage."
 
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FutureMayor

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$200+ Million for City Hall Expansion?

Crazy numbers being thrown by Brampton staff.

Louroz

More questions than answers on city hall expansion project

Tuesday April 28 2009
By PAM DOUGLAS

The Region of Peel expanded its office space for $56 million, but the City of Brampton says it would have to pay close to $200 million for a city hall addition.

Now, eyebrows are being raised at city staff’s price tag on city hall expansion as downtown business leaders and some councillors question the math.

Staff shocked councillors at a workshop Monday with the assertion that a 246,000 square foot Class A building— with brick and other high-quality finishes— would cost $204 million, not including the price of any land that may have to be purchased. That also doesn’t include a main branch library, retail space at street level, a police sub-station or any other amenities. A similar Class B building, described as “glass and steelâ€, would cost $172 million, according to Julian Patteson, the city’s commissioner of buildings and property management.
Those amenities would push the cost as high as $294 million, according to Patteson.
“I don’t know where they’re coming up with $204 million, especially not including land costs,†said Regional Councillor Paul Palleschi, who supports expansion. “I think they’re high.â€
Regional Councillor Elaine Moore, who also supports going ahead with the project, said she was “aghast†when she saw the numbers.

“The numbers just don’t add up. They make absolutely no sense,†Moore said, noting “iconic†office space can be built for around $300 a square foot, but Patteson’s numbers put the cost at $830 a square foot.
“These numbers are just beyond belief. A number of (councillors) have been asking questions...†she said.

Patteson could not provide any details or explanations at the workshop. Instead, City Manager Deborah Dubenofsky promised councillors a breakdown soon.

Patteson told councillors in his presentation that the figures have been double checked, and peer-reviewed by an outside agency for accuracy.

But he could not explain why the Region of Peel was able to build a 200,000 square foot Class B building for just $56.5 million at a time when construction costs were peaking. The region building has just officially opened, and includes a full police station to replace 21 Division and a cafeteria.

The contrast left several councillors asking ‘why’.

“It’s frightening... It takes our breath away, when we see what the Region of Peel spent...†Regional Councillor John Sprovieri told Patteson.
Patteson said he is still attempting to find out if the figures are comparable, and Palleschi said he, too, has called region officials to find out why there is such a large difference.

With a date for a public meeting on the issue still undetermined, city councillors wondered out loud at Monday’s workshop what information they would be able to bring to the public for consideration. After a full day, which included a financial presentation on the significant economic hit the city is taking this year, politicians quickly went through the list of amenities and removed all but the retail space, police sub-station and library for future consideration.

Real estate expert and York University business professor James McKellar presented councillors with various ways they could build the project by including the private sector, and told them borrowing large sums of money over several decades likely won’t be an option in the current climate, but he offered alternatives.

“You would have to guarantee what your tax hike would be to service that debt,†he said in explaining what the city would have to do to secure such loans, despite its Triple A credit rating.
McKellar also told councillors they have to make the best decisions they can make with the information they have available to them, and now is the time to do it.

“If you know what you want, yes, do it today, because I don’t know what’s going to happen a year or two from now,†McKellar told councillors. “The great value today is you’ve got some thinking time...If people say you should wait a while, I’m not sure what you gain.â€

He told councillors that city staff have already invested a lot of time and effort, and it is a complex project to undertake.

“This is a good time to make the commitment and a good time to just make sure the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted,†he said. “I can’t see a better time in the future.â€

Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell, who told the workshop, “I am for the taxpayer,†pointed out that the city has already made arrangements to accommodate all additional staff expected to be hired through to 2014.

However, Patteson said it would take approximately three years to build an expansion, and planning could take two.
The city currently uses its own buildings and rents space to house staff. The annual cost is $600,000 a year, but that will soon increase to $1 million for those leases, councillors were told.

After the workshop, Brampton Board of Trade Executive Director Gary Collins said city staff need to do a lot more homework on the issue.

“The city needs to go back and sharpen their pencil a bit,†said Collins, reiterating that the board supports downtown revitalization. “I don’t know how they generated those numbers.â€
He questioned Patteson’s assertion that the underground parking garage alone would cost $40 million to build.

“I don’t think that’s an accurate number,†Collins said.

He said the costing also does not take into account revenue generated by leasing out office space not immediately needed by the city, cost-sharing measures with Peel police and retailers, money that could be found by selling other surplus city-owned land including the existing downtown library site, or assessment income from the office space the city is currently renting that would be handed back to the private sector.

He also suggested funds could be freed up from other capital projects that qualify for federal or provincial funding, and re-directed. Administration space does not qualify for any grants, and development charges can only be used for the library, if it were included in the project.
The city is debt-free, but borrowed to build the existing city hall
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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Brampton councillors are rightly shocked by these numbers. If Peel Region could build their new offices for so much less, why would this city hall expansion cost so much more? Something is definitely up. Sounds a case of TTC skyrocketing costs. Or maybe someone is just trying to make a killing on building Brampton's city hall expansion. Either way, though I support this project, I don't support it at these prices. Sounds like a sure ripoff to me. Especially with this economic climate.
 

ShonTron

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Brampton City Hall expansion/Central Library (Dominus/CoB, multi-site)

The City has finally picked a private partner to tango with for addressing the much-needed City Hall expansion and a greatly needed Central Library (the current downtown branch is by Toronto standards, merely a district library).

The aim of the selected proposal is to use several city-owned sites downtown to address the space needs. The city houses staff in the old Carnegie Library, in several downtown low-rise office buildings, over at the old Civic Centre in Bramalea, at works yards and the dreaded Flower City complex (former jail/OPP academy) - the aim is to consolidate the workforce in one area.

The plan is now public - the full report is here, but the interesting parts start at page 44 of 51:

http://www.brampton.ca/en/City-Hall/meetings-agendas/City Council 2010/20110328spcc_C1.pdf

The central library is very welcome and appears to be the size befitting a library system serving over 500,000 - Brampton has a terrible library system these days with few branches and resources. It will take the place of an above-ground garage and surface lot opposite the Renaissance Condo on George Street, city hall office towers will straddle George Street south with an above-ground walkway.

The devil is in the details - nothing beyond conceptual sketches as of yet. Without doubt the increased employment will help downtown, and the library is needed matter what, but the architecture must fit the area.

No heritage buildings are threatened - just a four-storey office building, a parking lot, a parking garage, and the old 2-floor 1940s Brampton Times building on Queen.
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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Does Brampton really need a City Hall at all? It'll be absorbed into Mississauga someday anyway....or into a newer, bigger City of Toronto. They should really put a moratorium on new irrelevant city halls. I think Markham is building one too.
 

canarob

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Does Brampton really need a City Hall at all? It'll be absorbed into Mississauga someday anyway....or into a newer, bigger City of Toronto.
I really hope you're joking. :)

I think Markham is building one too.
I think you mean Vaughan. Markham's had a "new" town hall since 1989.
 

TOareaFan

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This is, I think, one of those cases where one goal for the city (downtown revitalization) is being brought forward but hidden behind a bunch of other issues.

Before I go too far...I should say I am a big fan/proponent of downtown Brampton....but I am in a minority amongst the citizenry. They have (and continue) to speak in volumes with their travel/spending patterns that there is very little interest in most Bramptonians in spending more money in the downtown for some goal of urbanization that they see as a waste. As retail expansion continues apace all over town, restaurants and stores in the downtown continue to struggle/close....cause people are saying they prefer to shop/eat at roadside and mall enclosed retailers.

Despite in-ordinate public spending in the downtown, there is no appreciable difference in what goes on there in terms of people actually wanting to be there. In recent memory, the balance of public versus private sector spending has been totally out of whack. The public purse has funded:

1. Gage Park
2. "New" City Hall
3. Peel Heritage Museum
4. Rose Theatre (and the adjacent public square)
5. 2 parking garages (over and above those that were created under City Hall and the Rose)
6 Alderlea purchase and renovation

What it has netted in return from the private sector is 2 condo buildings (3 if you extend your definition of downtown east past the railway to include Inzolla's project) and the renovation of 1 office building. No retail has been created and existing retail has generally turned over with ever decreasing "quality" of tennacies.

Now, this plan on the surface looks "fine". From a real estate prospective the project makes very good use of 3 or 4 (depending on how you define them) sites that the city already owns. The preliminary design concepts seem to be ok. But, as someone else said, the devil is in the details and the details here are that this is another massive (relative to the tax base) public spend with a goal to try (again) to find the solution to the decaying downtown.......if people run some numbers on this project it will quickly be clear that this is what it is. I am not sure there is anything wrong with that, but the fact that it is so carefully hidden as such tells me that city staff know that the vast majority of the half million people in Brampton spend little/any time in the downtown of Brampton and are growing tired of the constant spending of public money that is raised throughout the city on an area that "touches" so few people.

The concept of this expansion of city hall to revitalize what is called the "southwest Quadrant" (reference is to the old name of the intersection of Main and Queen as "The 4 Corners"...this project is the southwest of the "4") first surfaced (publicly) 3 or 4 years ago. The city had outgrown the "new" city hall and, as someone else pointed out, had staff "scattered" around town with some of that costing the city money via rent to private landlords (although the Flower City Complex that was referenced above is city owned so not the case). A city hall expansion, it was thought, could consolidate those staffers "under one roof" and the saving in rent would, in the long run, pay for the project.

Estimates in 2009 were that the city needed, by 2014, 126,000 s.f. of additional space to house current needs but would like 246,000 feet for expansion purposes (I guess to avoid doing this again 5 - 10 years later). It was thought at that time that the city would have to borrow $205 million to build a "signature" building of 246,000 feet (if you ever want to get people riled up about public waste, have them compare why any government body needs to spend nearly $1,000 per square foot on an office building with what the private sector spends). Those borrowings, it was estimated, would cost $13.5 million per year over 25 years to pay back. So that building would end up costing $337.5 million.

That idea was scrapped by a council resolution in 2009 and a RFP process was started to find a private sector developer/partner. Brampton has been very proud of its debt free status and I don't think there was much in the way of political appetite to go into the 2010 elections as the incumbent council that brought debt back to city finances.....even for asset backed debt such as this.

The result of that RFP process is the Dominus proposal in the link.

In Phase I of this proposal the city will get the 126,000 square feet of office space it required. On a lease to own basis with the lease payments around $8.2 million per year. By their own report/numbers, city staff show that staff that will be consolidated in this phase I project are all currently in the downtown core (in private rental situations) and the rent saved is $1 million per year. So the net cost per year is $7.2 million. So the cost over the 25 years to the city is $180 million to be slightly less inconvenienced (ie the staff is slightly closer and connected via a level 2 walkway but they are certainly not "under one roof" and they are only slightly closer). At the end of the 25 years, this building becomes the property of the city....in the meantime, the developer gets a pretty decent return (combining the city's rent payments with the income over the 25 years from the retail component...which at 10k s.f. in phase 1 is pretty minimal).

Spending $180 million additional (over and above the rent already required for those relocated staffers) of taxpayer money to get a "signature" office building may be a good thing from an urbanization/city building point of view.....but that is how it should be presented to the public. Phase 1 does not bring any additional city workers into the core...just consolidates those already in the core. Another way to look at this, of course, is that the city's own estimate is that they could build this sized signature office building for $97.7 million of borrowings which, paid over 25 years, is a total cost of $165 million.....netting out the $1million a year in rent savings means that borrowing and doing it themselves saves $40 million relative to this private-public partnership.

The comparison that is not done....is what kind of office building (of a non-"signature") variety could you build for $97 million. The Altus Helyer cost guide for 2011 shows the range of costs for a 10 - 20 storey office building in the GTA to be $175 - $250 psf. Using the top end of that range means a 126,000 s.f. building would cost $31.5 million and a 246,000 s.f. building would be $61.5 million.

There may be value to the taxpayer in the overspend evidently required to produce a "signature" building.....but that is what should be explained to taxpayers. It is nowhere in the document.

It should also be pointed out that the $1 million in rent being paid to private building owners will stop. If the city's goal includes attracting additional private sector investment in the core....I don't think "we just created an additional 126,000 of office vacancy and took $1 million of rent out of the few existing private sector buildings" is a good pitch in that campaign!!

Phases 2 and 3 in this proposal are very interesting. Filling that big hole on George Street and incorporating an ugly surface parking lot and an above ground parkade (which most people do not know exists is it so well hidden) into an exciting new public library then taking the old library site and maximizing a tough site with a new office building that creates that "expansion" space the city initially sought....that is all exciting stuff......since there are no cost estimates or other financial details (like who owns the existing library site at the end of the day and how either of those projects are financed) it is hard to judge their merits.

So, from a purely real estate point of view, there is a lot to like in this proposal. As one of the taxpayers who will end up paying $180 million for a 126,000 office building (over 1,400 psf) there are way too many questions for this to just be "approved as submitted".
 
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TOareaFan

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Does Brampton really need a City Hall at all? It'll be absorbed into Mississauga someday anyway....or into a newer, bigger City of Toronto. They should really put a moratorium on new irrelevant city halls. I think Markham is building one too.
Who are "they". For Toronto to annex Brampton, I think they would have to go through 'sauga.....should "they" stop municipal spending on projects in Mississauga too?

This is a decent project for Brampton in terms of real estate.

The finances of it though are very questionable and will be the focus of my questions to council through my area Councillors.
 

Parkdalian

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Does Brampton really need a City Hall at all? It'll be absorbed into Mississauga someday anyway....or into a newer, bigger City of Toronto. They should really put a moratorium on new irrelevant city halls. I think Markham is building one too.
You should be joking. Brampton has 400,000 inhabitants and is the 11th largest city in Canada.
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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I just find the two-tier government in Peel Region to be rather silly when compared to other cities in Ontario which aren't hindered by two municipal governments.

Whether we should A) Amalgamate into a Peel City or B) disband Peel Region and make each city single-tier is an important debate.

Although on the transit side of the things, I do think BT and MT should be amalgamated sooner rather than later, and eventually all the transit systems in the GTA.
 

adma

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I just find the two-tier government in Peel Region to be rather silly when compared to other cities in Ontario which aren't hindered by two municipal governments.
If that's the case, then mega-amalgamate all counties/regions a la Hamilton-Wentworth, Chatham-Kent, Prince Edward. Cities, towns, villages, townships etc are obsolete. Yeah, sure, esp. post-Harris, that'll go over well...
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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If that's the case, then mega-amalgamate all counties/regions a la Hamilton-Wentworth, Chatham-Kent, Prince Edward. Cities, towns, villages, townships etc are obsolete. Yeah, sure, esp. post-Harris, that'll go over well...
In fact, why not just amalgamate every city in the province into one super city the size of Ontario? We can do away with municipalities entirely. Think about the cost-savings and synergies!
 

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