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Airport out, worldwide design contest on

The city is inviting designers from all over the world to close their eyes and imagine what they could do with a clean slate in the city’s core.

The city is inviting designers from all over the world to close their eyes and imagine what they could do with a clean slate in the city’s core.

“Everything that is out there can be done,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel, regarding the city centre airport redevelopment. “The creativity that we want to encourage is the creativity of someone closing their eyes and envisioning what they would love to do if they had a blank piece of paper to work with.”

The mayor announced yesterday that a worldwide design competition will be held to find the right designer, or designers, to transform the airport into a environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented, mixed-use development for 30,000 residents.

“We think that this will be one of the really truly great projects that the city will ever do,” Mandel said. “This is a project that I think will begin to change the face of our city.”

A two-stage competition will be held. The first stage involves a qualification process from May 19 until June 30. The second stage begins July 15 when up to five firms will be chosen to participate in a request for proposals for the design competition. The winning bid will be announced in November.

Simon Farbrother, city manager, said shovels should be in the ground by 2012.

“This piece of our land is very close to our core,” he said. “It’s a significant asset and there’s an opportunity to develop a world-class development in the area.”

The city is currently facing two lawsuits in connection with the controversial closing of the airport but Mandel said the city will continue as if it’s business as usual. “We’re not going to stop our process, we’ll let those take their due courses,” he said. “The City of Edmonton has lots of challenges in court and we can’t stop progress. The city will continue to move ahead as was council’s direction.”