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Fashion arrives at the White House

Designer to open boutique, café

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Veronica Davis recently opened a fashion boutique on the main floor of the historic White House building on Portage Avenue.


Veronica Davis recently opened a fashion boutique on the main floor of the historic White House building on Portage Avenue. Photo Store

A local fashion designer has set up shop in the long-vacant main-floor space of the historic White House office/retail building on downtown Portage Avenue.

Veronica Davis plans to operate a number of different concepts out of the approximately 3,000-square-foot main-floor space, including a retail boutique, a small café, and her online fashion magazine/clothing boutique business (

The retail store is already open. But the café, which will have a small outdoor patio area, isn't expected to open until July, said Jess Davis, one of the leasing agents for the 105-year-old building, who is also married to Veronica Davis.

Jess Davis, who is a commercial leasing specialist with Avison Young Commercial Real Estate (Manitoba) Inc., said he and his wife are also exploring some options for how she could use the building's 1,000-sq.-ft. mezzanine level, which is currently vacant.

"We're just in the process of finalizing what those concepts might be," he said, adding details will be released once the plans are finalized.

He said some of the concepts under consideration are also fashion-related and some are not. But they would all be suitable uses for the historic space, he added.

Veronica Davis said there are also a number of rooms on the main floor she'd like to rent out to fashion-related operators, such as a hair salon or esthetics salon.

Davis designs and produces men's, women's and children's clothing, which she markets under her own fashion label, called Vronik. Although she's been selling her products online and at fashion shows for more than a decade, this is her first bricks-and-mortar store.

While her specialty had been ready-to-wear clothing, she said she plans to switch to more upscale, haute-couture fashion items, including made-to-measure men's suits and women's and children's gowns and dresses. She thinks that would be better-suited to the building's ornate, neo-classical-style interior.

"It's a very beautiful area. It's very unique and very complementary to a fashion designer (operation)."

The building, which has also been referred to as the Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building and the North West Trust Building, is located on the south side of Portage just west of Fort Street.

The main floor and mezzanine space had been vacant for more than three years. The last tenant was a high-end salon. Before that it housed the Winnipeg operations of the Canadian Western Bank, which is now in the building next door.


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Lots are now up for grabs in the city's newest industrial park.

Jim Kulik, an industrial leasing specialist with Colliers International, has begun marketing 75 hectares of land in the Prairie Industrial Park in southeast St. Boniface.

Located directly south of the St. Boniface Industrial Park on land once set aside for an Olywest hog-processing plant, the new development is a joint undertaking of the City of Winnipeg, which owned the land, and Terracon Development Ltd., one of the city's most active industrial developers.

Although the city has entered into joint-venture partnerships before with residential developers, this is the first one involving industrial lands, John Zabudney, manager of real estate for the city, said in an interview.

Zabudney said the timing is right, because there are only 2.4 hectares left to be developed in the 94-hectare St. Boniface Industrial Park, and that land will likely be sold before the end of this year, he added.

"We're quite excited about it (the Prairie Industrial Park development) because employment lands are coming into short supply in the city," he said. He also noted the city's other joint-venture partnerships have all produced good returns for the city.

Under the terms of the joint-venture partnership agreement, Terracon is responsible for developing and marketing the land, and it, in turn, has arranged for Colliers to handle the marketing of it.

Zabudney said the new park, which will be accessed from Mazenod Road, will be competing with business/industrial parks that have been springing up in municipalities outside the city limits but within the capital region.

Although some of those parks have been successful in luring light-industrial users away from the city, Zabudney said one advantage the Prairie Industrial Park is it will be fully serviced, with paved roads and water, sewer, hydro and natural-gas hookups.

In his marketing brochure, Kulik states the land within the park has been zoned M3 for heavy industrial uses.

That could include such things as manufacturing plants, processing plants, freight terminals, waste and salvage operations, transportation facilities and major utilities.

But he notes light industrial users and office, restaurant and hotel development will also be allowed.

The land can be purchased in parcels ranging from 0.4 to 20.2 hectares in size. Lots will be available for development by this September.

Ten lots (21.4 hectares in total) within the park can also be developed with full rail access, the brochure adds.


Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2014 B4


Updated on Monday, April 14, 2014 at 6:56 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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