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Rank Inc. wins bid for new convention centre

Former Chronicle-Herald site on Argyle chosen over competitors

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According to a statement just released by a competing firm, Joe Ramia's Rank, Inc, has been selected by the province to move forward with plans to construct a new World Trade and Convention Centre on Argyle Street, at the site of the former Chronicle-Herald building.

Update: I've placed the text of The Hardman Group's press release below. I can't comment on the relative merits of the various proposals, as I haven't seen them, but Hardman evidently hopes to create enough public opinion backlash to reverse the decision, and it's true that the demolition of the Cogswell Interchange has immense appeal.

Stil, neither the city nor the province has said how they intend to pay for a new convention centre, wherever it might be placed.

Update 2: I just spoke with Colin Whitcomb, executive vice-president at Hardman Group. He says that his convention centre proposal called for tearing down the Cogswell Interchange, freeing up about 16 acres of land. About half of that-- eight acres-- would be devoted to streets, sidewalks and other public uses, and about half the remaining, four acres, would host a $120 million convention centre. The remaining four acres would be sold for private development. As Whitcomb points out, development in this area faces no height restrictions under the proposed HRM By Design guidelines.

As Whitcomb tells it, the city and province put out a call for "expressions of interest"-- a request for "information on who your team was, generally what you were proposing to do and how you were proposing to do it---in broad terms." Hardman was one of six groups putting forward proposals.

He expresses it diplomatically, but Whitcomb is perturbed about the procurement process. He complains that some of the competing bidders had had meetings with mayor Peter Kelly, and when he asked for the same, he was denied.

I'll have yet more on this story later tonight.

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