January 31, 2012

Aquatic redesign costs Windsor $500,000 ‘Wow’ factor appeals to councillors

BY DOUG SCHMIDT, THE WINDSOR STAR


This drawing of the revised exterior of the new downtown aquatic centre depicts a view of the main entrance and looks southwest from the corner of Church and Pitt streets.
Photograph by: Handout, The Windsor Star

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Beautifying what some had described as the “ugly” exterior design of Windsor’s new downtown aquatic complex will add another half-million dollars to the $77.6-million price tag approved by city council just last month.

But local politicians said Monday it’s well worth the higher cost.

“This is the type of building that belongs in our city centre ... this is what we were all looking for, something we’ll all be proud of,” Coun. Bill Marra said after aquatic committee chairman Coun. Drew Dilkens gave colleagues a brief overview Monday night.

“I liked the original, but now that I see this, I say, ‘Wow, we’ve really raised the mark,’” Dilkens said.

Gone is the squat box shape that project manager Don Sadler said had some critics wondering where the main entrance was. In its place is a floor to roof, four-storey glass wall that allows natural light to flood in and passersby to glimpse the inner workings of the family aquatic waterpark and an Olympic-sized competitive pool and diving facility.

The city is hoping the extra costs can be absorbed by the overall budget’s contingency fund of $2.9 million, created to cover any unforeseen or unexpected cost overruns. If that fund is exhausted, however, the city and the builder, EllisDon Corporation/DeAngelis Construction Inc., have agreed to split the extra design costs evenly, meaning city taxpayers will be out a quarter-million dollars at most.

“We keep talking about that ‘wow’ factor — this one just seems to jump out at you more,” Coun. Ron Jones said of the new design. He said it will “generate excitement.” Sadler said it will generate crowds outside, looking in at all the fun going on inside.

 

 

“This adds a sense of excitement,” added Ward 3 Coun. Fulvio Valentinis.

More details were revealed Monday of the construction schedule, with excavation at the vacated parking lots south of the Art Gallery of Windsor to begin in March.

The competitive pool portion of the complex will be completed in time to train staff ahead of the International Children’s Games in the summer of 2013, but Sadler said the facility will then close down completely to the public following that event. He said it would be too unsafe to continue those operations while construction proceeds on the adjoining family fun portion, which will include racing and other water slides, surf simulator, wave pool, lazy river and kids zone.

The grand opening is set for December 2013.

The city has pledged not to go into debt for the project, for which the province has committed $15 million. Now that the final design is completed, Sadler said an RFP can be issued for naming rights — selling those rights shaved $2.3 million off the cost of the WFCU Centre.


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