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CentreVenture won't ID possible St. Regis redeveloper

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A new contender has emerged in the city's search for someone to redevelop the downtown St. Regis Hotel property.

Winnipeg's downtown development agency -- CentureVenture Development Corporation -- rejected three proposals submitted last month. But since then, another party has expressed an interest in the property.

CentreVenture president and CEO Ross McGowan said agency officials have had preliminary discussions with the new party, and have asked for a written offer to purchase along with a more detailed description of what it would do with the property.

"You only need one good one, and we think we may have a good proposal," McGowan said of the latest contender.

He wouldn't say who the new contender is, or if it's a local or out-of-province developer. He also wouldn't reveal any details about what plans it may have for the property.

McGowan was also tight-lipped about who submitted the three earlier proposals, and why they were rejected.

Asked whether CentreVenture approached the new party or if it was vice versa, he said, "It was a little of both."

He denied CentreVenture officials were disappointed they received only three responses initially, which proved unacceptable.

"Our expectations were relatively low. And there's no panic for us to do something (with the property)."

He said the hotel has been leased back to the previous owners, who will continue to operate it as a "dry" hotel until a long-term solution is found.

"And it's still a valuable property," he added.

CentreVenture purchased the St. Regis last November as part of a push to curb excessive intoxication and improve safety downtown. It then shut down the hotel's beverage room and VLT lounge, and leased it back to the previous owners.

The St. Regis is one of two older downtown hotels the city agency has purchased since late last fall. The other is the Carlton Inn on Carlton Street, which is also slated for redevelopment.

McGowan said CentreVenture took possession of that now-vacant hotel on Friday, and will soon apply for a demolition permit. It hopes to demolish the two-storey structure within the next eight to 10 weeks.

He said it's still too soon to disclose what is likely to be built in its place. But he strongly hinted in May a new hotel could rise from the rubble.

Winnipeg Convention Centre officials have been lobbying for a new international-brand hotel to be built near the Convention Centre to help accommodate an anticipated increase in convention business once its $180-million-plus addition opens in 2017. The Carlton Inn property is located across the street from the WCC.

 

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2013 B6

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