Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big North End infill job

Small firm continues rebuilding work

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A small, family-owned construction company is helping to rebuild parts of the city's North End, one square block at a time.

Judge Construction plans to break ground within the next six to eight weeks on a $10-million infill housing development on a nearly one-square-block parcel of land just west of McPhillips Street.

Maharlika Prairie Estates will feature 35 two- and three-bedroom, entry-level homes on the parcel bounded by Aberdeen and Redwood avenues, and Fife and Shaughnessy streets.

It's Judge Construction's second major infill housing development in the area within the last three years. Last summer, it completed a 25-home development on the site of the former Florence Nightingale School, at Manitoba Avenue and Shaughnessy.

The firm is also planning a similar infill housing development for the Weston area. Company president Gary Judge said it has already acquired the land, but it's still too early to say anything more about the project.

He said he and the firm's partner in the first two projects -- FCP Smart Builder -- would also like to do a major infill development in the heart of the North End if an appropriate site can be found.

"It has been a neglected area (for new housing developments). And the more we can do, the better it is for the community." Mike Pagtakhan, city councillor for the area, agreed, saying, "It's the fastest way to rebuild a community."

Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) said there haven't been any new housing developments of this size in the area "in a long time" and city officials "want to send a message to other developers that we're open for business and that there are lots of opportunities to do infill developments in the North End."

Judge Construction acquired the Fife Street property from the city last summer. Judge refused to disclose how much it paid, but said it was "a very good chunk of change."

The city earlier offered to sell the 1.3-hectare parcel to Manitoba Sikh Cultural and Seniors Centre Inc. and the Punjab Foundation of Manitoba for $1 so they could build a domed cultural centre and seniors home on the site. But when they were unable to raise $7.5 million for the project, they opted instead to buy the former Brooklands Collegiate on King Edward Street for $900,000 and turn that into a cultural centre.

Paktakhan said the city retained a tree belt at the southwest corner of the property, which will be redeveloped as public green space.

The homes in the Maharlika Prairie Estates development will be raised bungalow or bi-level-style homes. They will range in size from 809 to 1,100 square feet, and will sell for $219,000 to $259,000.

Maharlika is a Filipino term meaning nobility or aristocracy, according to Wikipedia.

Judge said they are similar to the homes in the Florence Nightingale development, which sold out within 18 months. He said that confirmed his belief there is a strong demand for new entry-level homes in areas like the North End and Weston, where he lived from 2001 to 2007.

Although these are the first two new-home developments the company has tackled, Judge said he and his business parter, Rupinder Walia, purchased, refurbished and resold about 18 existing homes in the North End and Weston areas from 2001 to 2007.

He said young families purchased most of the homes in the Florence Nightingale development, and he expects it will be the same with the Fife project.

He said the company had a list of 15 interested buyers even before it acquired the property. The two agents selling the homes.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2011 B5

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