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Geotech work wraps up on possible highrise site

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Workers begin drilling piles just north of 201 Portage Ave., on the west side of Main Street.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Workers begin drilling piles just north of 201 Portage Ave., on the west side of Main Street. Photo Store

Creswin Properties is one step closer to developing an empty parking lot near Portage and Main into a highrise tower.

The David Asper-owned property developer has applied for a partial lane closure on Albert Street to facilitate the development of 416 Main St., a 23,000-square-foot surface lot located immediately north of the 201 Portage Ave. office tower.

On June 24, the city's downtown, heritage and riverbank committee will consider the lane closure, which is aimed at preventing cars and delivery vehicles from blocking construction access to the Main Street lot, which is owned by Asper Tower Inc.

In May, Creswin began conducting geotechnical testing on the empty surface lot as a prelude to the project known in Winnipeg's development community as "Project W." It is expected to be a hotel tower with office space, though Creswin president Dan Edwards said there is no deal in place for such a project just yet.

"We are just wrapping up our geotech investigations, which as you know, have been underway for the better part of the last month," Edwards said in a statement.

He said he did not wish to divulge more detail in deference to the city, which is considering both the Albert lane closure and an application for a private approach onto the surface lot directly from Main Street.

If granted by city council, the lane closure would be a permanent feature that would change the way vehicles access the rear side of 201 Portage Ave., the Albert Street parkade and neighbouring buildings, said Bohdan Buyachok, a real property officer for the City of Winnipeg.

It will also allow vehicles access to 416 Main St. on behalf of Creswin. "In the report, I do reference the fact there is a development going in that site and this is to facilitate that," Buyachok said.

Creswin has been considering development options for the site for years, but has been holding out for the right project.

Situated close to Portage and Main, the undeveloped parcel of downtown land has long been eyed as an ideal location for a highrise building.

Should a deal be concluded, the Westin hotel chain or an affiliated brand is expected to be the major occupant, according to sources in the development industry as well as at city hall.

The nearby Fairmont Hotel on Portage Avenue East was once a Westin property.

Sources pegged the height of the tower at 22 to 27 storeys, depending on whether office tenants sign on to the project.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 A11

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