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This article was published 8/6/2015 (716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It's three down and one to go in StreetSide Development Corp.'s multi-year conversion of four Exchange District heritage buildings into residential condominiums.
"We continue to roll along and to get sales, and life goes on," StreetSide manager Martin Maykut said.
The conversion of the first three buildings in the company's District Condos development, which have 90 units, has been completed. And the building in the final phase will add 64 more units.
The first three buildings are at 133 Market Ave., 132 James Ave. and 110 James Ave. All of the units at 133 Market Ave. and 132 James Ave. have been sold, Maykut said, and there eight left at 110 James Ave.
Maykut said with those three buildings done, pre-construction work is underway on the final building, which is two joined together to create one: 139 -145 Market Ave.
"We're doing the window replacements as we speak," he added.
'I think having gone through three and now going into the fourth, we've learned quite a bit along the way'
He said the conversion work is expected to get underway in late summer or early fall, with the goal of having the units ready for occupancy by the summer or fall of 2016.
Maykut admitted sales in the early stages of the District Condos project went slower than expected. But that changed about 1� years ago, after the 49 units at 132 James Ave. were completed.
"Then they (prospective buyers) could see exactly what they were buying, they could understand the space, they could understand the neighbourhood," he explained.
"So of all of our (condo) projects, it (the District Condos development) has probably been our most consistent seller and was probably our most successful seller through 2014 and 2015."
The District Condos are StreetSide's first downtown development and its first heritage conversion.
Although it's done a number of infill developments in older, established neighbourhoods such as Osborne Village and St. Boniface, they were new builds.
None involved converting an existing building to a new use.
Maykut admitted converting the century-old Exchange District heritage buildings has been challenging.
"I would probably call it a labour of love. There are definitely complexities in working with these buildings," he explained.
"The buildings aren't perfectly square, so every column, every wall -- everything -- is just a little out of line."
There's also the challenge of removing lead paint and asbestos found in the buildings.
"But I think having gone through three and now going into the fourth, we've learned quite a bit along the way, and we're a little better at dealing with things," he added.
While it's been challenging, Maykut said StreetSide has no regrets about taking on the projects.
"I think they (the new condos) are great for Winnipeg, and I think it's helping our downtown. It's kind of giving more of an urban lifestyle option, and in terms of a legacy, I think they are fabulous projects."
He also suggested they may not be the company's last downtown conversions.
"If the 139-145 Market building goes really well, we will probably be off looking for our next opportunity."
StreetSide's original plans called for the construction of an eight-storey, 50- to 60-unit condo complex on a parking lot the company owns at the corner of James Avenue and Lily Street.
However, Maykut said that's been put on hold until a proposed 450-stall parkade and retail space is built on a provincially owned parking lot on James Avenue.
"It's definitely a future project, but right now we need that parking lot to sell condos," he said, noting buyers need the 40-plus stalls for their vehicles until a neighbourhood parkade is built.
The province has offered its parking lot, and the city has offered $5 million in funding if a developer can be found to build and operate a parkade.
StreetSide's parent company, Qualico, and Sunstone Resort Communities at one time proposed building a mixed-use facility on the provincial lot that would have included a parkade, residential units and some main-floor commercial space. But they later changed their minds after the costs became prohibitive.
Angela Mathieson, president of CentreVenture Development Corp., said the province has said it's in the process of preparing a new request for proposals in hopes of finding another developer to build the parkade. She couldn't say how soon it might be issued.
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