As it turned out, the land had just been sitting there for years, bypassed by more than one developer.
"We couldn't figure out why, because, at least for us, it was love at first sight," he says of the site of The Renaissance, a six-storey, 41-unit condominium soon to be located at 3420 Pembina Hwy. (close to the Farmer's Market and St. Norbert Community Centre).
"The contour of the land, river and mature forest made for a beautiful walk. Some developers may have passed on the land because of the construction challenges presented by the contours. To us, the contours and surroundings made the project that much more worthwhile because we could offer people something different."
Make no mistake, says Pereira -- it's the surroundings that make The Renaissance such a special project.
"It's just a beautiful area, which we will make sure is well landscaped," he says. "Not only does the land have some movement to it -- it slopes down to the Beaujolais Coulee, which criss-crosses the property, and provides quick access to the St. Norbert Heritage Trail -- but it feels like you're out in the country. Yet, you're only minutes away from amenities and services on Pembina Highway and close to the Perimeter Highway. We were very fortunate to have found such a great location."
Now that construction is underway -- excavation and piling has started, with a display suite to be ready for early fall -- the arrival of The Renaissance couldn't be better timed.
"It's the first real multi-storey development of its kind in this area in many, many years, maybe 20 or better. From the start (about three years ago), meetings with community leaders in St. Norbert were very positive. When we showed them plans for the complex, they were very well-received," he recalls. "In fact, the design was a home run. People really liked the Victorian feel."
The impetus behind the design wasn't hard to come by, says Pereira.
"I wanted to capture the history of the area which is rich in French culture," he says. "So I went with a neo-classic design (which will include a metal roof with diamond-shaped metal shakes, reminiscent of Victorian-style buildings found in Old Montreal) inspired by St. Norbert, which is one of Winnipeg's older and more historic areas. The result will be a building that blends in and honours existing area architecture."
Not only will the building fit in with the area's existing architecture, but it will also be a very modern structure, despite its old-world appearance.
"It will be a unique building in that it will be very energy efficient -- it will be built with insulated concrete forms, triple pane and argon gas-filled low-e windows with reflective coatings, among other things," Pereira says. "In fact, we'll be applying for a PowerSmart designation. We expect that the building will be 25 per cent more efficient than other similar buildings. That's good news, because it will reduce heating and cooling costs for residents, which will be reflected in lower condominium fees."
Suites will range in size from 1,282 sq. ft. to 1,830 sq. ft, and will come in configurations of one bedroom plus den, two bedrooms and two bedrooms plus den. About 80 per cent of the suites will have river views (or 36 out of 41). It also figures to be a very quiet building, he adds.
"We actually live in a condominium (The Excelsior on Waterfront Drive), so we're very aware of the problems excessive noise can present. As a result, great attention has been paid to providing excellent sound suppression between walls and floors," says Pereira. "It will be an incredibly quiet building due to six inches of concrete between walls and floors, as well as five inches of insulation. Ceilings made up of drywall -- it makes for a much nicer look -- and will also be nine feet high, with minimal bulkheads."
Pereira says the interior of The Renaissance has been designed to match its exterior elegance. The building's lobby will feature a circular coffered ceiling, with granite stonework throughout, as well as lots of comfortable furniture to recline on.
"In our mind, it's the main entrance to people's homes," he says. "That's the first thing your family and friends see, so it's very important to set the tone right. The approach to the development will come via a circular driveway with a pond and cascading waterfall. Overall, everything figures to look quite nice."
Suites start at $258,600 and max out at $472,170, with condominium fees ranging from 371.15 to $529.81 (which includes all utilities). They will not only be large, but will have all the amenities buyers have come to expect from Sherwood Properties' developments.
"Units will be largely open-concept designs with large windows and interior features such as granite counter tops, maple cabinetry, porcelain tile foyers and 60-ounce carpets in the bedrooms. There will also be stainless steel appliances, natural gas fireplaces and barbecue hookups on balconies, as well," Pereira says. "There will also be large in-suite storage areas, plus an additional locker down in the underground (heated) parking area. All units will have oversized balconies, and each suite will have its own individual heating and cooling system. There will even be an on-site manager."
With construction finally on the go, Pereira says he and Winterburn are excited about the impact The Renaissance is going to have on the area.
"The response to date has been incredible and we haven't even done any official advertising," he says. "We put our sign up just before Christmas and two people have already bought units, with several more to come. The local community alone has come on board in a greater way than we thought. Once we start advertising for real, we expect the positive response to continue."
The Renaissance will have its grand opening on Jan. 20. For more information, call 953-1752 or visit www.sherwooddevelopments.com.