Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big Ontario developer plans $80-M project here

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A major Ontario developer has purchased a parcel of land in downtown Winnipeg and plans to build two high-rise commercial/residential towers on the site as part of an estimated $80-million development.

A senior executive with Richmond Hill-based Fortress Real Developments Inc. wouldn't reveal where the property is located because the deal hasn't formally closed yet.

All Vince Petrozza would say is it's a parking lot, it's "centrally located in the downtown" and "it's really a prime property."

Petrozza, who is Fortress's chief operating officer, said the property will likely be developed in two phases and that Fortress hopes to start Phase I next year.

Although the design plans haven't been finalized, he said each phase will likely involve the construction of a single highrise tower that will feature a combination of stores, parking stalls and office condominiums on the lower levels and condos above.

Asked how much the project is expected to cost, he said: "We could be looking at almost $80 million."

This is Fortress's first development project in Winnipeg, but Petrozza said it hopefully won't be its last.

"It's always about achieving economies of scale, so it always makes sense to do more that one project in an area," he said.

"And we think Winnipeg is a fantastic town. The climate right now is right for development -- residential or potentially mixed-use development."

He said Winnipeg has a good-size population, a favourable business climate and a healthy, stable real estate market.

"It's that kind of steady-as-she-goes growth," he said. "And CentreVenture is very determined to clean up the downtown."

CentreVenture president and CEO Ross McGowan said in an interview he met with Fortress officials recently and was told the developer was looking to acquire a property and undertake a major development in the downtown.

He also wouldn't reveal where the property is located, other than to say it's not within CentreVenture's proposed Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED). That 12-block area includes the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the Walker Theatre and the redeveloped Metropolitan Theatre, which officially reopened Friday as the Met Entertainment Centre.

-- Murray McNeill

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 B8

History

Updated on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 1:59 PM CST: Corrects name of developer.

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