Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/12/2008 (3104 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A group of Winnipeg investors has purchased the Boyd Medical Centre and two properties immediately west of it and are planning to build a new 12-storey parkade/commercial building on the two adjacent lots.
The proposed $30-million development, which will be connected to the Boyd building, will feature a laboratory and a pharmacy on the ground floor, another lab on the second floor, and about 420 parking stalls on the other 10 floors, three members of the ownership group, Boyd Building Inc., said in an interview Tuesday.
Lawyer Ken Carroll and real estate developers Russ Knight and Ray Rybachuk said they hope to begin building the new facility in the spring or early summer and expect to complete it by the end of 2009.
The ownership group includes Caspian Construction owner Armik Babakhanians, whose firm is building the new Canada Post mail-sorting plant at Richardson International Airport. The partners said they acquired the Boyd building and the neighbouring properties because they saw them as good investments.
"We do have a lot of belief in the potential of the downtown," Carroll said, adding they also liked the fact the Boyd building is next door to the new Hydro headquarters. "We believe it is going to have a pretty significant impact on the downtown."
He and Rybachuk said the nine-storey Boyd building was only half full when they acquired it last September. Now it's fully leased, and Carroll said that's a reflection of a growing interest in the downtown.
"We're actually overwhelmed with how quickly and smoothly it's gone forward."
Knight said they bought the adjoining properties because some Boyd building tenants wanted more lab space and parking for staff and patients. One is a two-storey building that will be demolished and the other is a vacant lot the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone had converted into community space that was used during the summer by outdoor chess players and street musicians.
"Parking is at a premium downtown, so this was a good time for us to be doing this."
Rybachuk said 100 to 150 of the parking spaces will likely be reserved for Boyd tenants, another 100 or so will be leased to another nearby business, and the rest will be used for public parking.
He said they originally planned to build a six- or seven-storey structure, but later decided to add more floors and make it the same height as the Boyd building. Although it's nine storeys, Rybachuk said the ceiling heights are much higher in that building. So that's why the new one will have 12 floors instead of nine.
He said most of the new tenants they've signed up for the Boyd building are medical-related businesses, including a walk-in clinic, an ultrasound clinic, a chiropractor's office and a number of doctors' offices.
He said when the new development is complete, they will have attracted about 20 new doctors and about 100 new medical workers to the downtown.
Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, said BIZ officials would have no regrets about losing the vacant lot, which the previous owner had been letting it use until the lot was sold or redeveloped.
"I'll give up that space for a new commercial development in the downtown any day," Grande said.
The project still needs to be approved by the city, and city planner Kurtis Kowalke said that at first blush, it sounds like it would be a suitable development for the area.
But he stressed that city officials haven't seen the design plans. Not only will they have to be approved, but any alterations to the Boyd building, which is designated as a heritage building, will also need to be approved by the city's heritage buildings committee.