Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Council invests in street culture

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The streets around Winnipeg's concert, theatre and museum district will get a facelift that includes interactive lighting able to react to voices, clapping and movement.

The city will spend $2.5 million this summer and fall on the first phase of a streetscaping project in the cultural district, starting on Market Avenue.

To brand the area as Winnipeg's centre of high art, the city will add new benches, widen sidewalks and install better signage. Cubist light sculptures that respond to motion and sound will be nestled in the trees.

"People in the Market area will get the message that, in this district, there is culture on every corner," Mayor Sam Katz said.

Rorie Street is slated for streetscaping next year, with Lily Street behind the Centennial Concert Hall and James Avenue to follow.

The cash is coming mostly from the proceeds of the sale of a parcel of city land just off Main Street and from the 2009 sale of the Winnipeg Square parkade.

Council pledged every dollar of the $23.6 million from the sale of the parkade would go to downtown improvements. Some of that profit, $8.3 million, was earmarked for streetscaping and architectural initiatives related to two new parkades planned for the downtown, one on James Avenue and one in the north Portage entertainment district.

The new James Avenue parkade will be part of a larger development by the Sunstone Group and Qualico and will get an additional $5-million boost in the form of a low-interest loan. That cash is also from the proceeds of the Winnipeg Square sale.

The developers are planning to turn a surface parking lot on the north side of James Avenue into a $35-million mixed-use development featuring 100 apartments, a parkade and some retail or office space.

Qualico is already converting six former warehouses on James and Market into 150 condominiums.

City council still needs to approve the $2.5 million in cultural-district streetscaping. Council's downtown committee will consider the matter at its Monday meeting.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 A8

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