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14 storeys to call home

102-unit highrise planned for U of W campus for 2015

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Education Minister James Allum (from left), U of W president Lloyd Axworthy and Housing Minister Peter Bjornson unveil the highrise design Monday.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Education Minister James Allum (from left), U of W president Lloyd Axworthy and Housing Minister Peter Bjornson unveil the highrise design Monday. Photo Store

A 14-storey, mixed-use apartment complex, which will include 46 units for low-income earners, will be built in the heart of downtown.

The University of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba are partnering to build the $27-million, 102-unit complex. The highrise will be built on a university-owned surface parking lot immediately south of the U of W's Buhler Centre, which is on the corner of Portage Avenue and Colony Street.

It will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Forty-six will be earmarked for low-income Manitobans -- mainly students with families -- with 32 of them offered on a rent-geared-to-income basis.

The other 56 units will be offered at market rents, with 16 of them designed as premium units.

University and government officials told a news conference Monday construction should begin next spring and should be completed in the fall of 2015.

The U of W's development arm -- The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corp. -- will be the project developer and will manage the complex.

Sherman Kreiner, the corporation's managing director, said it will be one of only three apartment complexes in the downtown that includes a mix of affordable and regular units. The other two are the Avenue Building on Portage Avenue, which has 15 affordable units; and the U of W's McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence, which has 176 student suites and 25 townhouse-style apartments for student families.

Kreiner said there is a big demand for affordable downtown rental units large enough to accommodate students with families.

He noted the units in the new complex will be open to all students, not just U of W students.

Lloyd Axworthy, the U of W's president and vice-chancellor, noted McFeetors Hall has a waiting list for its townhouses.

"We recognize that many students are also parents with unique housing needs and, with an extremely low vacancy rate, downtown Winnipeg needs more residential options," he said.

"We are extremely committed to removing whatever barriers we can so that recent immigrants, indigenous people, rural students and adult learners can choose to follow their dreams and obtain a university education.

"We are also strengthening downtown renewal by offering more market-priced and premium apartments in a highly sought prominent and convenient location."

The province will provide a loan guarantee, as well as tax-increment financing and provincial sales tax (PST) credits.

"This new building will be perfectly situated to provide a home for students from a variety of backgrounds and will add new richness to the growing downtown community," said Housing Minister Peter Bjornson.

"It will create jobs, provide an economic boost for services in the area and build upon our partnership with U (of) Winnipeg, which has changed the landscape of downtown Winnipeg."

Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) said the downtown will benefit from the new project.

"We know students love to spend money at restaurants and shops, so they (downtown businesses) will directly benefit," Grande said. "And any time you introduce new permanent residents... it just adds more vibrancy to the downtown."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2013 B1

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Updated on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 8:32 AM CST: adds map

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