There'll be a little bit of small-town Manitoba and a lot of early-1900s-era Winnipeg in the new Bridgwater Town Centre in southwest Winnipeg.
The town centre that developer Manitoba Housing envisions for the Bridgwater portion of the massive Waverley West subdivision is one in which pedestrians take precedence over vehicles, and the neo-traditional architecture of early-20th-century Winnipeg is king.
That means main streets where contiguous rows of buildings -- not parking lots -- butt up against the sidewalks, where some of the commercial buildings feature front porches or patios, and where outdoor public spaces include clock towers, plazas and fountains.
Other pedestrian-friendly features the document says are encouraged are "shaded, canopied, cantilevered and/or heated walkways" and lots of trees and flowers.
Manitoba Housing is also looking for a variety of different sizes of buildings, including some multi-storey, mixed-use buildings that have retail space on the main floor, some doctor or dentist offices on the second and third floors, and apartments or condominiums on the upper floors.
"It's looking back to the past for how we develop into the future," Dwayne Rewniak, director of land development for Manitoba Housing, said.
"We're going back to the traditional architectural styles of that era (early 1900s). And it has that walkability aspect, where cars are kind of in the background and the focus is on the pedestrian."
Rewniak said Osborne Village and the Corydon Avenue retail strip are two examples of the kind of commercial/residential neighbourhood Bridgwater Town Centre will mirror.
"We certainly like the look and feel of those two neighbourhoods, with their variety of shops and stores, and restaurants and cafes... where you can sit on the patio and have a cup of coffee and read the paper."
Jino Distasio, director of the University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies, said that style of development is often referred to as "new urbanism."
"We're seeing a lot more of that (in North America)," he said. "It's a more human scale of doing things, and I think it's just a nicer way of doing things."
He said the kind of multi-storey, multi-use buildings Manitoba Housing is calling for "is also a more effective use of space" because it provides increased density.
"It's a wonderful concept, but it definitely takes some time to develop," he added.
Manitoba Housing's vision for the Bridgwater Town Centre is spelled out in detail in a recently released 97-page request for proposals (RFP). Rewniak said he expects the RFP to attract proposals from local, national, and international developers.
At 135 acres -- 75 acres of "buildable" land and 60 acres of roadways, laneways, walkways, parks and retention ponds -- Bridgwater Town Centre is believed to be the largest town centre development in the city in recent memory.
"As far as size and scope, I don't think there's anything comparable out there," Rewniak said.
The other half of the 3,000-acre Waverley West subdivision -- Ladco Development's South Pointe and South Pointe West -- is also expected to have a town centre.
"But it won't be as large in scale as what we're proposing," Rewniak said.
The deadline for proposals is Jan. 4. Manitoba Housing is hoping the first phase of the development -- likely townhouses -- can get underway in 2013. Rewniak said commercial development likely won't begin until 2015.
The 75 acres of "buildable" land will be divided into 31 parcels. Developers can bid for some or all of them, but the RFP says "strong preference" will be given to proponents who want to buy and develop the entire set of sites, "or larger, similarly zoned portions thereof."
It says those proposals must include a minimum of 1,000 multi-family units. The type of retail/commercial units will be left up to the proponents.
Rewniak said he expects the commercial developments to include doctor or dentist offices, bank or credit union branches, a supermarket, coffee shops, gas station, car wash, "and a lot of specialty retail shops."
Lay of the land
What is Waverley West?
One of the largest residential subdivisions in the city's history. It will have an estimated 12,000 to 13,000 homes (single- and multi-family units) and 40,000 residents when fully developed.
When did development start and when is it expected to be finish?
The first residential lot was sold in 2008 and the subdivision is on pace to be completed by 2022.
Who is developing it?
Manitoba Housing is developing the Bridgwater half of the subdivision and Ladco Company Ltd. is developing the South Pointe portion.
How many neighbourhoods are in each?
There are five neighbourhoods in Bridgwater: Bridgwater Forest, Bridgwater Lakes, Bridgwater Trails, Bridgwater Southeast and Bridgwater Centre. There are two in South Pointe: South Pointe and South Pointe West.
At what stage is the Bridgewater portion of the development?
The first neighbourhood -- Bridgwater Forest -- is about 90 per cent completed. It will have more than 1,100 single-family and 500 multi-family units when finished late next year or in early 2014. Development of Bridgwater Lakes got underway this fall, and it will have 1,100 single-family homes. The development plan for Bridgwater Trails is now before the city, and Bridgwater Southeast is still a ways down the road.
-- source: Manitoba Housing