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Portage and Main condos hit the market

28-storey tower named for storied corner

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Condo space in a proposed 28-storey tower will go on sale next week as Creswin Properties takes another step toward the construction of a highrise on a vacant surface lot near Portage and Main.

Over the past 10 years, the Winnipeg firm has been planning to develop a plot of land it owns at 416 Main St. immediately north of its office tower at 201 Portage Ave. A proposal for a 28-storey building next door with hotel rooms, condos and office space emerged in May after Creswin fenced off the Main Street site and began conducting geotechnical tests.

While the project awaits a green light for construction, Creswin has unveiled a name for the proposed tower: One Portage & Main.

The intention is to "change the demographics" of Winnipeg's most famous intersection by building a tower with luxury condos and an upscale hotel at the centre of the city, said real estate agent Gary Bachman, who's leading the sales effort for condo units proposed for six upper floors.

"This will be a game-changer," said Bachman, of Century 21 Bachman & Associates. "Like the MTS Centre and the (Jets) coming back, this is a massive deal for Winnipeg."

'This will be a game-changer. Like MTS Centre and the (Jets) coming back, this is a massive deal for Winnipeg'

-- Century 21 realtor Gary Bachman

Over the past month, Creswin has converted a fifth-floor space in its 201 Portage Ave. tower into a showroom for the condos in One Portage & Main. The plan is to sell prospective condo buyers on a tower where they would have access to all the services offered by a high-end hotel, such as room service and twice-daily room cleanings, should residents so desire.

"This is the first time and probably the only time anyone (in Winnipeg) has had a chance to buy luxury condos above a four-star or five-star hotel," Bachman said.

Condo residents would also have access to a fourth-floor terrace on the tower and valet parking. Condo fees, he said, would be lower than those in other Winnipeg towers, thanks to economies of scale afforded by sharing space with a hotel.

A hotel tenant, however, has yet to be secured. The initial name for the tower, Project W, led to speculation one of the hotel brands associated with the Westin name was slated for the project.

Creswin president and CEO Dan Edwards said the firm is still conducting "due diligence" to ensure all components of the tower come together before the start of construction would be approved. If green-lighted, the project is expected to have a price tag in excess of $100 million.

The go-ahead is not contingent on condo sales, Edwards said. But he said Creswin still must assess the interest in residential space in the proposed building, which could offer more than six floors of condos if the demand presents itself.

The units for sale range in size from 860 to 1,540 square feet and would sell for $500,000 to $1 million apiece, including a parking spot, Bachman said. That price range reflects both the size of the space and options to choose one of two finishing packages or a customized space.

One floor has already been reserved for use by two large condo buyers, Bachman said.

"I don't see any problem selling these. There are a lot of people ready to live downtown," he said, citing the attraction of the Portage and Main property to people who work in the city's financial district and suburban homeowners preparing to sell properties that have recently increased in value.

Bachman said he is not concerned about plans to build other downtown condo towers or the unsold inventory of condo units in existing downtown buildings. In July, city council approved a package of incentives to encourage the sale of those units, but one component of that plan -- a $10,000 cash incentive for condo buyers -- appears destined to be killed by council this fall.

"That has nothing to do with us," said Bachman, referring to the glut of unsold units. "We're not selling those and we have an entirely different concept."

Pending a green light for construction, One Portage & Main would open in 2015, Edwards said.

Creswin, which once tried to persuade Manitoba Hydro to build its new downtown headquarters at the site, has since rejected other development proposals, he said.

"We've been very patient because of the significance of the site," he said, referring to its close proximity to the famed Portage and Main intersection.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 A3

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Updated on Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 9:46 AM CDT: Headline and subhead changed.

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