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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big stake for Ont. developer

Wants rural investments, not just urban

Posted: 10/29/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 10/29/2013 6:16 AM | Updates

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Nizar Mawani of Kothari Developments Inc. at the Hampton Inn by Hilton Winnipeg on Berry Street. This big development is just the start for Manitoba, he says.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Nizar Mawani of Kothari Developments Inc. at the Hampton Inn by Hilton Winnipeg on Berry Street. This big development is just the start for Manitoba, he says. Photo Store

A Mississauga-based developer is sinking some deep roots in Manitoba, with plans to open a regional headquarters here and to spend up to half a billion dollars over the next 10 years on new commercial developments in the province.

"We initially planned to do $100 million (worth of new developments) over five years," Kothari Developments Inc. vice-president Nizar Mawani said Monday, referring to plans unveiled last July by business partner Anupam Kothari, who is also the company's president.

"But now we'll be doing... up to $150 million in the next two years," Mawani said. "And in the next 10 years, we think there will be another $300 (million) to $350 million (worth of projects) going in."

The bulk of the projects will involve the development of new hotels, condominium complexes and apartment blocks in Winnipeg and rural centres. The rural centres they're interested in include Brandon, Thompson, Flin Flon, Steinbach, Winkler, Selkirk, Neepawa and Gimli.

Mawani said they'd also like to build a hotel/lodge in Churchill to tap into that northern town's burgeoning tourism industry. But that's several years down the road, he added.

'Everybody wants to build in Winnipeg but nobody wants to go into these smaller places'

He said they will be recruiting local investors to partner with on each project because those partners will be more familiar with their community and its needs. And in many cases, they may already have a piece of land waiting to be developed and just need a partner to help them develop it.

"Everybody wants to build in Winnipeg but nobody wants to go into these smaller places," he said. "But if somebody has a piece of land, we would be happy to partner with them." Kothari Developments' first foray into the Manitoba market was the development of the six-storey Hampton Inn by Hilton Winnipeg hotel, which opened in May on Berry Street near the Richardson International Airport.

And in a little over a month, it will begin work on a 52-unit condo complex on St. Mary's Road, called Van Hull Estates. Mawani said more than half of the units in the development have been sold, and they've hired a local real estate developer and construction-project manager -- Eugene Heinricks of Altona -- to oversee the project. It's expected to take about a year to complete.

The company, which is a member of the Kothari Group, has also purchased two other parcels of land in the city for two more multi-family residential developments. One will be a 50- to 60-unit condo complex to be built on Wilkes Avenue near the Golf Dome, and the other is a 300-plus-unit condo or apartment complex that will be built in Transcona.

Mawani said the Wilkes Avenue project is expected to get underway next spring, and work on the Transcona project should begin next fall. Both developments will take about 15 months to complete.

The new regional office for the Prairies -- the company is also looking to expand into the Saskatchewan and Alberta markets -- will be housed in a new three-storey, 9,000-square-foot building to be built adjacent to the Berry Street hotel. The hope is to have the building completed by the fall of next year.

The regional office will be housed on the top floor of the building, and the plan is to open a Turkish spa on the second floor and a brand-name restaurant on the ground floor.

Mawani said they're close to striking a deal with a national restaurant chain, and they're hoping to attract a local person to operate the spa.

"It will be in line with what's at the Inn at The Forks," he added. "It will be a world-class spa."

Kothari said last July the partners would like to build one or two more hotels in Winnipeg, and one each in Brandon and Thompson. Mawani said that's still the plan.

"We're looking for properties."

He said they decided to open an office in Winnipeg because of the volume of work they expect to be doing here over the next decade.

"Between the two of us, we will be spending at least 10 days of every month here. That's a third of our time," he said. "And we can hire local people for our local office and have them making decisions (about local projects), rather than someone in an office in Toronto."

He said to start, they expect to hire five to 10 local people for the new office.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2013 B5

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Updated on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 6:16 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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