Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/2/2009 (3041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IT was, almost literally, like running into a 125-year-old brick wall.
Sport Manitoba didn't know, when it initiated discussions to buy the office building and attached warehouse of the Smart Bag Co. Building from Prosperity Knitwear, that the property was one of the city's heritage buildings.
Last fall, when Prosperity asked the city for permission to demolish the warehouse to make way for the fieldhouse and athletic training facility, the city's historical buildings committee recommended protecting the entire structure.
In December, the committee called the empty warehouse on the east edge of the Exchange District "an outstandingly early, rare and handsome example of the Romanesque revival style" of architecture that dates back to 1884.
"These types of issues obviously require a balance between maintaining the historical nature of buildings that make our city unique and providing for new opportunities," property committee chairman Scott Fielding told the Free Press at the time.
The committee later agreed to change the heritage status of the building to the less restrictive Grade III from Grade II and Sport Manitoba CEO Jeff Hnatiuk has been talking with the committee and the heritage community ever since.
They've been working toward a compromise that will still allow for construction of the 29,000-square-foot fieldhouse while at the same time maintaining the facades and other historical features of the warehouse.
"This has never been a case of us wanting to go head to head with the heritage community," Hnatiuk said. "This is something that we wanted to create in concert with them and in consultation with them so that in the end, both are very proud of what's created."
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, chairwoman of the city's historical building committee, said this week that the main hurdles appear to have been overcome.
"It's at the conceptual stage and there's still a need for final approvals, but the historical buildings committee is comfortable with what they're bringing forward at this point and there's sort of an approval-in-principle... so it's very positive."
Gerbasi said Sport Manitoba still has to come forward with final plans and get permits and the like, "so it's sort of in their court to do that. I'm not sure how long it would take but the heritage issue seems to be going well.
"If there's an understanding in principle and then everything just carries on like that, then there's certainly nothing standing in the way there... the final approval still has to happen, but it's going very well."