For a guy who says he's still a "country boy" at heart, Joseph Ranseth has taken to downtown Winnipeg living like the proverbial duck to water.
"I like it a lot," the 33-year-old senior marketing strategist for a downtown marketing agency (Canada's Web Shop) said of his new 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in the Avenue Building, which is just a stone's throw from Portage and Main and Ranseth's workplace on Albert Street.
"There are some little things I miss, but I love living in the building -- great neighbours, great people, and it's nice to be so close to everything. I walk to the Goldeyes (baseball) games and it's just a block to the MTS Centre."
Ranseth has become such an unabashed booster of downtown living he became the first guest blogger on a new website launched Tuesday to encourage more people to move to the heart of the city.
The website, www.myplaceisdowntown.com, is a joint initiative of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, the Exchange District BIZ and the CentreVenture Development Corp.
It's intended to be a one-stop shop for information about the 1,100 new condominiums and 650 new apartments that are available, under construction or in the works in downtown Winnipeg. It also offers information about area amenities, including where to find parking or buy groceries.
Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande unveiled the marketing initiative Tuesday at a news conference at District Condos, a 15-unit warehouse conversion that Qualico's Streetside Development Corp. recently completed at 133 Market Ave.
Ranseth, who grew up near Beausejour, was on hand to talk to reporters about his impression of downtown living. He moved into his apartment in April after 16 years of living in a number of cities in Canada, the United States and Costa Rica.
He said it was family that brought him back to Winnipeg late last year, but it's the city and the downtown that's keeping him here.
He admits his long-term goal is to move back to the country. "But I've grown a lot more fond of it (downtown living) than I thought I would, so I can see myself staying longer than I thought I would," he said.
Ranseth admits he frequently encounters intoxicated people and panhandlers, but "I've never been concerned about my safety."
StreetSide manager Martin Maykut said District Condos is one of five warehouse-to-condo conversions StreetSide is doing on Market and adjacent James Avenue. It's also the first to be completed.
Maykut said seven of the 15 one- and two-bedroom units in the three-storey building have been sold, with six already occupied. All the buyers have been young, single professionals, the type of buyer StreetSide and other developers have said are most likely to embrace downtown living.
He said the 19-unit building at 110 James will be the next StreetSide project to be completed, likely in November or December.