Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A residential cherry on top?

Eyed for new downtown gem

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The developers of one of the city's highest-profile downtown construction projects -- 311 Portage Avenue at Centrepoint -- are in late-stage negotiations with a Toronto developer about including a residential tower in the project.

The tower would be built atop the south end of the development's 450-stall parkade, which will stretch for about two-thirds of the length of the block of Hargrave Street between Portage and Ellice avenues.

It's believed the tower would house condominiums rather than rental apartments.

The six-storey parkade will include 16,000 square feet of main-floor retail space stretching along both Hargrave and Ellice.

Centrepoint is a joint venture by two Winnipeg companies -- Longboat Development Corp. and Artis Real Estate Investment Trust. The $75-million project, which will take up much of the block between Portage and Ellice and Donald and Hargrave, also includes a 20-storey tower consisting of one floor of retail space, four floors of offices and a 15-storey, 154-room boutique hotel. That tower is being built on the southeast corner of the block.

Winnipeg restaurateur Bobby Mottola confirmed Friday he has a tentative deal to lease one of the office/hotel tower's two main-floor restaurant spaces -- a 3,413-square-foot spot facing Donald Street.

Mottola, owner of Pizzeria Gusto on Academy Road, said the new outlet won't be a another Pizzeria Gusto.

"It will be a new concept to Winnipeg."

He said he'll release further details once the leasing deal is completed early next week.

Longboat hasn't revealed who is leasing the 8,640-square-foot space facing Portage Avenue, other than it's a national restaurant chain. Company president Scott Stephanson said the name won't be released until the leasing deal is signed.

Earlier this week, Longboat and the Winnipeg office of Cushman & Wakefield, which is handling the leasing of the commercial space in the development, briefed about a dozen local real estate brokers and agents on the progress of the project and the type of space that is still available.

An official with CentreVenture Development Corp. also reviewed the downtown development agency's previously announced plans for developing the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED) in the 11-block area that includes the Centrepoint development.

Stephanson and Wayne Sato, vice-president of office leasing for Cushman & Wakefield, said demolition of buildings on the site is well underway. Once that's done, crews will drill 120 holes for the development's geothermal heating system and then start pouring foundations in late November.

Stephanson said the rehabilitated facade of the former Mitchell Copp building on Portage will serve as the entrance to the office building, and the front door/lobby area of the hotel will face Donald Street.

As previously reported, local engineering firm Stantec has leased about half of the third floor and all of the fourth and fifth floors. The other half of the third floor (8,503 square feet) and all of the second floor (17,566 square feet) are still available.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2012 B5

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Updated on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 9:14 AM CDT: adds fact box

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