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Work on condo project underway

Second phase of award-winning development in West End

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Work will soon get underway on the next phase of an award-winning condominium development under construction in an industrial area of the West End.

Phase II of the BGBX development, at the corner of Wall Street and St. Matthews Avenue, will include two buildings and 12 condos.

As was the case with the first phase, the new condos will include eight loft-style, two- or three-storey units (one- and two-bedroom), and four one-storey "flex" units. Prices range from $125,000 to $299,000.

The two- and three-storey units range in size from 650 to 1,200 square feet, and the flex units are about 500 square feet. The latter can be purchased either as bachelor units, add-ons to one of the other residential units, or as office/retail space.

Developer Jeff Badger said work on the second phase will begin this spring and should be completed by the end of this year. Work on Phase III, which will have eight units, should get underway next spring and should be completed by the end of 2014.

Badger had originally hoped to complete all three phases by the spring of 2011, but it took longer than expected to get the design plans approved by the city and to build the first 12 units.

"But now that I've got the first phase done, I'm not nervous anymore."

The BGBX complex has some unusual features. For example, there are no traditional heating ducts in the condos. Instead, warm air is blown through holes in the hollowed-out, concrete-slab floors.

The exterior walls that face onto Wall and St. Matthews are also clad in perforated, corrugated metal siding to give the complex an industrial look, while the walls facing onto the interior courtyard are clad in pixelated green-and-yellow panels to create the look of a forest. The courtyard also will feature lots of greenery, a gravel moat with bridges and vegetation-covered bioswale drains to collect run-off water from the roof of each building.

The unusual design earned local architecture firm 5468796 Architecture Inc. a 2010 progressive architecture award from the U.S.-based Architecture magazine.

Six units in Phase I and one from Phase II have been sold so far. Re/Max Professionals' Mary Pidlaski, who is the listing agent for the project, said the bulk of the buyers have been younger, arts-minded, environmentally conscious professionals. Most are single, although a few have been couples.

"Most of our buyers are buying them to live in," she added.

"They like the idea of being close to Polo Park, Health Sciences Centre and to the downtown and the MTS Centre."

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Work is already underway on the next phase of a high-profile downtown condo development -- the Qualico Group's District Condominiums projects in the East Exchange District.

That development involves the conversion of six heritage warehouses on Market and James avenues into 150 condo units.

Two of the six projects -- the conversion of a three-storey building at 133 Market Ave. into 15 condos and the conversion of a four-storey warehouse at 110 James Ave. into 19 units -- are completed. Now work crews are focussing their attention on the conversion of a three-storey warehouse at 132 James Ave. into 49 condos.

The manager of the Qualico division that is doing the conversions -- StreetSide Development Corporation -- said new windows were installed last summer and the exterior brickwork also was done then. Now crews are installing a new roof, Martin Maykut added.

Maykut said the interior renovations will begin shortly and are expected to take until the spring of next year to complete.

He said all but one of the condos at 133 Market Ave. and nearly 30 per cent of the units at 110 James Ave. have been sold so far.

"Typically we like to be 50 to 60 per cent sold by the time of possession," Maykut said, adding tenants began moving into 110 James Ave. last fall. "So it's been a little slow in getting going... "

But he said seven of the units in the two buildings have sold since the start of this year.

"We've had a relatively good 2013. We seem to be finally gaining some momentum. So we're optimistic we could have a very good spring and summer."

Maykut said the building at 132 James Ave. will be converted into one- and two-bedroom condos ranging in size from 500 square feet to 1,100 square feet. StreetSide expects to begin marketing the units later this spring, but prices have not yet been finalized. The condos at 110 James Ave., which include bachelor, one- and two-bedroom units, are priced at between $200,000 and $400,000, with most of the one-bedrooms in the low $200,000s, Maykut said.

He said StreetSide has about 50 stalls on a surface parking lot it owns at the corner of James and Lily Street, and that's met the needs of its tenants thus far.

But StreetSide is hoping the city proceeds soon with its plans to construct a 450-stall parkade on James. A city spokesperson said recently it continues to work on the project and that "it would be premature to comment further at this time."


Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 15, 2013 B6

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