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This article was published 9/1/2009 (3056 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Earlier this week, two city councillors -- downtown development chairman Mike Pagtakhan and North Kildonan's Jeff Browaty -- complained that the $30-million structure under construction on Main Street north of Logan Avenue does not have commercial space on the ground level, as envisioned in an earlier design.
The councillors have used words like "atrocious," "fortress" and "disappointing" to describe a project they feel does not create the pedestrian-friendly streetscape promised last March, when downtown development agency CentreVenture and private developer the Resolve Group announced the project.
But the complaints are premature because hoarding still shrouds a building that will be much more attractive when WRHA employees move in, architect Verne Reimer said Friday.
"Everybody should relax a bit and wait for the building to be finished," said Reimer, a principal with Stantec Architecture.
He said the design for the project changed when it became clear a ramp for a parkade would have had to climb steeply in order to accommodate commercial space on the main floor. That would have forced the building to be one-and-a-half storeys taller, he said.
"Any time you put a parkade in an urban situation like (Main Street), it's very difficult," Reimer said, promising the Main Street facade of the parkade will look as attractive as commercial storefronts when construction wraps up this spring.
The Resolve Group may build commercial space elsewhere in the neighbourhood, he added, praising the private developer for revitalizing one of the most difficult stretches of downtown.
Plans for the complex went in front of the city's urban design advisory committee five times instead of the usual one or two reviews, Reimer said. "We wanted the building to fit in, esthetically and socially," he said. An ostentatious building would not be appropriate for a tenant like the WRHA, he added.
An ostentatious building would not be appropriate for a tenant like the WRHA, he added.
But even as Reimer praised the project, a third city councillor added his voice to the chorus of complaints. Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who preceded Pagtakhan as downtown-development chairman, said he too was disappointed with the design.