Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Home products heading south

Companies seek out growing opportunities

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First came the car dealerships, and now a new cluster of businesses is springing up in the popular southwest quadrant of the city.

This time it's interior-design and home-building-products-related businesses, including at least four carpet/flooring stores, a kitchen cabinetry outlet, and two of the newest arrivals, a tile and stone wholesaler/distributor and a windows and doors store.

Ames Tile & Stone recently celebrated the grand opening of a 16,000-square-foot showroom/distribution centre at 970 Lorimer Blvd. And earlier this year, Gienow Windows & Doors opened a 9,200-square-foot showroom/office/warehouse in the same business area -- Sterling Lyon Business Park.

Ames branch manager Bryce Gobeil said that after more than 40 years in Inkster Industrial Park, the company decided to move its showroom/distribution centre to the southwest of the city to be closer to many of its customers -- interior designers, contractors and flooring retailers -- and some of the end users of its products -- homeowners.

Gienow also wanted to be close to its customers, which are homebuilders and homeowners.

Gobiel and Rick Schmidt, Gienow's Prairie region branch manager, said the southwest quadrant is one of the fastest-growing residential areas in the city. In addition to established neighbourhoods like Linden Woods, Whyte Ridge, Fort Richmond and Waverley Heights, there is also the massive Waverley West subdivision, which is under development and includes South Pointe, Bridgewater Forest and Bridgewater Lakes.

Manitoba Home Builders Association president Mike Moore said that when fully developed, South Pointe, Bridgewater Forest and Bridgewater Lakes are expected to boast a population the size of Brandon (roughly 46,000 people).

"When you're looking at, in one region of the city, adding (the equivalent of) Manitoba's second-largest city... it only makes good sense that companies in the design-decorating-home-improvement area would locate in that end of town," Moore said. "Then you add to that the fact that nearby there are old neighbourhoods like River Heights, where renovations are huge."

Gobeil and Schmidt said having a lot of similar stores in the same area is good for business.

"It draws more people to the area," Schmidt said.

A & S Homes, the owner/developer of the Sterling Lyon Business Park, hopes to create its own cluster of interior design and homebuilding-supply companies within its development, said officials with the park's leasing agent, DTZ Barnicke Winnipeg.

"It's still in its infancy," said DTZ president Martin McGarry, adding Ames and Gienow are the first to be signed up.

"We could use a kitchen-and-bath place and an electrical/lighting type of business. There are probably four or five more we would like to have."

DTZ agent Gail Auriti said a third multi-tenant, office/warehouse building is under construction in the park, and should be ready for occupancy in December.

She said they hope to sign up eight to 10 tenants for the 65,000-square-foot building. One prospective tenant has conditionally agreed to take 12,000 square feet, and another has shown "serious interest" in about 25,000 square feet, she said.


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How would you like to rent some space in The White House?

Not that White House. We're talking about the two-storey, 103-year-old building on the south side of Portage Avenue near Fort Street, which is also called The White House.

Jess Davis and Todd Labelle of Avison Young Commercial Real Estate (Manitoba) Ltd. are looking for a tenant or tenants to rent the main floor, mezzanine and basement of the historic building at 234 Portage Ave.

Davis said the lavishly designed main floor -- about 3,080 square feet -- and the mezzanine -- about 1,000 square feet -- are ideally suited for retail. The basement is suited for storage.

Davis said the main-floor space, which has been vacant for about two years, had been leased for many years to North West Trust, which later became Canadian Western Bank.


The last tenant was a high-end salon.

"We are targeting another salon," he said, although other potential users include a day spa, a restaurant or upscale retail boutique.


-- -- --

A New-York-style luxury condominium development on the eastern edge of Wolseley has been put on hold after the developer was unable to presell enough units to allow the project to proceed.

Winnipeg-based Fresh Project Design Builders wants to presell at least half of the 12 brownstone-style units that it plans to build on five residential lots on Woodrow Place, a short street that runs along the Assiniboine River west of Maryland Street.

Company co-owner Sean Fehr said they fell short of that mark, although he wouldn't say by how much.

"We did have a fair bit of interest and some pre-sales.... But the status (of the project) is that we're going to hold off until the spring market."

Fehr conceded that the price -- $595,000 for the 1,700-square-foot units and $695,000 for the $1,800-square-foot ones -- might have been an issue with some buyers.

"But I think what was more significant was that in that price range, people need and deserve to see what they'll be getting."

So Fresh has to decide whether to stick with luxury-condos and build a display unit, or switch to a less expensive style of condo.

"We're going to continue to explore what the market demand is," Fehr said. "We'll take the winter to decide."


Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the e-mail address below, or at 697-7254.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2012 B5

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