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This article was published 1/10/2015 (576 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TRUE North Square wasn't the only development left out in the cold when Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries chose to build its new headquarters at the Medical Arts Building.
The Crown corporation also rejected a proposal to move into the Hudson's Bay Co.'s downtown Winnipeg flagship store, creating another setback for the redevelopment of the underutilized heritage structure at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard.
The rejected proposal would have seen Liquor & Lotteries serve as one occupant of the downtown Bay, a six-storey building with more than 500,000 square feet of space. To date, the 89-year-old building has resisted redevelopment because of its size and the absence of natural light in its interior. That absence of light is a barrier to conversion for office or residential use, but cutting a skylight into the structure has been rejected as too expensive.
"It's a really challenging building for so many reasons," said Angela Mathieson, president and CEO of CentreVenture, the city's downtown development agency. "It's so large. Turn it on its end, and it's the size of the Richardson Building."
The key to redeveloping the Bay is to assemble a series of different occupants, in addition to the retailer, which currently utilizes three floors of the structure but is expected to downsize further.
Offices or residential housing could occupy exterior sections of unused floors, while tenants who do not require natural light -- say, classrooms or archives -- could occupy the interior of the building, Mathieson said.
"I think those other uses are in play," she said. "We're here to bring together partnerships, if we can."
A Vancouver developer working on proposal ideas for the Bay could not be reached for comment.
No formal ideas have been presented to the province, said Ron Lemieux, the provincial minister responsible for heritage.
"This is really multi-faceted," he said. "You're talking about a lot of partners, a lot of things that have to happen."
Lemieux said the new Liquor & Lotteries head office will still benefit the Bay by increasing property values downtown and bringing more potential customers downtown.