A proposal for the development of the last remaining parcels of vacant land at The Forks was endorsed by a civic committee this morning.
The preliminary plan for a mixed-use development, including residential high-rise buildings, two parkades, a tiered park and urban plaza, was approved by the downtown development committee.
Coun. Mike Pagtakhan, committee chairman, said The Forks’ preliminary development proposals match what the public said it wants to see on the site.
"They want to see public space, they want to see vibrant space and they want to have a role in development as its moves forward," Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) said.
The planning project still needs to be considered by city council.
We’re taking a parking lot and building paradise.
The project involves 4.9 hectares of land on two parcels: the Rail Side site, a Forks-owned concrete parking lot immediately north of Citytv’s studio; and Parcel Four, a city-owned gravel parking lot briefly considered in 2012 as the site for a hotel and water-park development.
When the public reacted angrily to the water-park project, city council asked The Forks to conduct a two-year planning and consultation process that resulted in the new project.
Forks CEO Jim August told the committee the proposal preserves 60 per cent of the 4.9 hectares for public space, adding that the 40 per cent allocated to private development will finance development on the public side.
August said that while the public rejected a residential plans for the site in 2000, the public is now willing to accept a mixed-used development that still preserves a great deal of space for public access.
"We’re not designing the buildings, we’re just putting some standards together," August said.
The Forks expects the private sector to invest $200 million on five sites over the next six to seven years for residential and commercial development.
The Forks will be responsible for building a terraced park and parkade on the Rail Side parcel and the urban plaza and a second parkade on Parcel Four.
The Forks wants city hall to declare the Parcel Four land surplus, as a sign of commitment to development, and agree to transfer ownership for development.
The committee unanimously endorsed the proposal.
"There’s the old song, ‘Pave paradise and put up a parking lot,’ but we’re going the other way here," Coun. Jeff Browaty said. "We’re taking a parking lot and building paradise."
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, whose ward includes the historic property, said The Forks administration did exactly what council asked it to do.
"There’s a lot of very exciting things about (the project)," Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said.
The development on the public space will be financed through the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) zone, which will see additional property and education taxes generated from the private-sector development turned over to The Forks.
The proposal is contingent on:
❚ Completion of phase two of public consultations.
❚ The province providing matching funds equal to those generated through the TIF.
❚ Council approval of the final concept and master plan.
❚ The establishment of an administrative steering committee to oversee the project, with representation from city hall, the province and The Forks.