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City to get a touch of glass

Condo project touted as jewel in downtown

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CityPlace is home to a display suite for Glasshouse Skylofts, a swank condo complex set to rise next year between Donald and Hargrave streets.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

CityPlace is home to a display suite for Glasshouse Skylofts, a swank condo complex set to rise next year between Donald and Hargrave streets. Photo Store

IF you live in a glass condo, you probably shouldn’t throw stones.

Not only could you break one of your floor-to-ceiling windows, you might hit one of downtown Winnipeg’s newest residents (in a few years, anyway).

Potential owners and curious onlookers got a first-hand feel of what a $55-million condominium complex to be built between Donald and Hargrave streets just off Portage Avenue will look like when a full-scale display unit was unveiled at cityplace mall Wednesday afternoon.

Construction on the 195-unit Glasshouse Skylofts, a development being widely touted as one of the most crucial elements of downtown’s Sports Hospitality and Entertainment District, is expected to begin early next year with occupancy starting in early 2016.

Local developer Longboat Development Corp. and Toronto-based condo developer Urban Capital are partnering on the project.

"It’s about confidence," said Ross McGowan, president and CEO of CentreVenture Development Corp. "You have a major urban development company from another city saying ‘I think this can work here.’ " Speaking of confidence, McGowan was quick to note the $130-million price tag of the entire Centrepoint project, which also includes a five-storey mixed-use tower and a 15-storey Alt Hotel, is being paid for almost entirely with private money.

David Wex, a partner with Urban, said 1,000 Winnipeggers signed up to tour through the display condo this weekend but he can only squeeze in 400 of them.

"We’re open for pre-sales," he said.

The condos will range in size from 435 square feet up to 1,000 square feet. Most will be priced between $169,900 and $250,000, with a few going for as much as $315,000.

Wex said he was attracted to invest in Winnipeg because of the palpable buzz in the city.

"This city has amazing bones. The architecture here is incredible. Your city has such amazing potential to have a beautiful downtown," he said.

Jeoff Chipman, president and CEO of The Stevenson Group, which includes Longboat Development Corp., said downtown Winnipeg is enjoying some good momentum but the SHED — a more than $600-million project designed to revitalize 11 blocks of downtown Winnipeg that include the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Metropolitan and Burton Cummings theatres — has to be completed.

"I think it’s a critical part of redeveloping downtown. The best way to bring about urban development is people. When people are around, they feel safe and they are safe," he said.

Chipman said the condos could also spur a previously undeveloped market in Winnipeg — buying condos for investment purposes.

McGowan said he hopes the entire SHED could be completed in four or five years.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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