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Grant Park Pavilion waiting for nod from city

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WINNIPEG property developer Shindico plans to transform 18 hectares of land on the south side of Taylor Avenue into what city hall is touting as a model of mixed residential and commercial development.

On Tuesday, city council's property committee will consider a master plan to develop underutilized and vacant Grant Park land sandwiched between Taylor Avenue, the old Manitoba Hydro headquarters, the CNR Rivers rail line and Shindico's existing Grant Park Festival development.

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Shindico expects to spend $200 million on the mixed-use development, which will include rental apartments, retail stores, a seniors home, a park, new intersections, bike-and-pedestrian trails, offices and possibly a hotel.

Shindico-affiliated broker John Pearson said the project will fulfil the objectives of Our Winnipeg, the city's long-term planning blueprint, which calls for neighbourhoods where people can both work and live.

"We are building what the city administration wants for this site," Pearson said Friday in an interview. "It is sustainable, it is green, it has public transit on the site, it's pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly... all the things you would want to see in a major infill opportunity."

Work on the development, dubbed Grant Park Pavilion, could get underway as soon as this summer, provided city council rezones the land, most of which is currently designated for manufacturing. It will be twice the size of Grant Park Festival and will mark the conclusion of Shindico's 15-year effort to build up land on the south side of Taylor Avenue.

Shindico has assembled the land over several years, purchasing a parcel from Manitoba Hydro and a small chunk from the city. In 2012, some of the utility's above-ground lines were buried on the site, prompting area councillor John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) to wonder aloud on the floor of council what was going on.

He said he now completely supports the project, which will be more pedestrian-friendly than Grant Park Festival.

"They have followed the 'Complete Communities' model laid out in Our Winnipeg," Orlikow said, noting there may be a total of 300 residential units in the development. "I'd love to see even more residential, but we came to an agreement at the end."

The master plan for the development calls for four separate districts: a small public park; a commercial centre with at least one major retailer; a medium-density mixed-use area with residential units, office and retail space; and a high-density mixed-use area with residential housing and office space.

The development also calls for new intersections at Stafford Avenue and Pembina Highway. Orlikow said that all but guarantees the city will abandon a short-lived plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway east to Taylor Avenue.

"That model is dead," he said, adding the city will focus on getting the Waverley Street underpass built instead.

A future connection to the Parker lands on the south side of the CNR Rivers line is possible, according to the master plan. But that development is nowhere close to proceeding.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 A4

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