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This article was published 27/3/2015 (726 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It's full steam ahead for the ambitious SkyCity Centre condo-tower project in downtown Winnipeg even though one of the two original developers is no longer involved, officials for the remaining partner said Thursday.
"Everyone is on board and we're very much committed (to proceeding with the development)," Natasha Alibhai, brand and communications manager for Toronto-based Fortress Real Developments Inc., said in an interview Thursday.
"We've been here (in Winnipeg) since yesterday, and it's been back-to-back-to-back meetings, which is good because it shows we're committed."
"We are still moving full steam ahead," added chief operating officer Vince Petrozza, who was also taking part in meetings with local government officials and construction and real estate industry officials. "Our mindset remains the same, where we very much believe it is Winnipeg's time."
Alibhai admitted some people had doubts about the future of the project after Fortress's partner in the development-- Windsor-based Mady Development Corporation -- ran into financial difficulties and was granted court protection from its creditors in February.
"But Fortress is the primary partner, so we just took over the project, basically," she said. "And we're not concerned about that (Mady dropping out) because we still have the team, the funds are there, the project is healthy and we still believe in the city."
She and Petrozza also noted a 2,500-square-foot sales centre is still under construction on the second floor of a building at 279 Garry St. They plan to open the centre and begin selling the 388 condos to the public in September, although it will likely do some advance advertising this spring.
Alibhai said the fact Fortress is building a downtown sales centre is further evidence of its ongoing commitment to the project.
"Fortress is now putting money in. It's not just parking it and sitting on it."
Although the project is still a go, Fortress has made changes to the original design. Although they still intend for it to be the tallest building between Toronto and Calgary, it will now be 47 storeys high with a three- to six-storey, lit-up glass-wrapped pentice or crown. The original design was for a 44-storey building and a nine-storey pentice.
The new design also calls for a seven-storey podium, instead of 10 storeys, and a grocery store on the main floor rather than the second floor.
Although a grocery tenant hasn't been found, Alibhai said Fortress officials remain convinced they will land one.
"We've talked to all of the national grocers... that's going to be announced before we got to market (in September)," she said. "There's still that demand from every level of government for that grocery (store). "We've just got to find the right fit."
Although it's prepared to proceed on its own if necessary, Alibhai said Fortress would still prefer to team up with another developer. She said talks are already underway with a prospective candidate.
"We plan to announce another partner in 2015. It's still very preliminary, but the goal is to announce that in 2015. And it will be a national name," she added.