Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Paradise' clears hurdle

Mixed-use development proposed at The Forks

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A proposal for the development of the last remaining parcels of vacant land at The Forks has passed its first hurdle at city hall.

The preliminary plan for a mixed-use development, including residential highrise buildings, two parkades, a tiered park and urban plaza, was approved Monday by the downtown development committee.

Coun. Mike Pagtakhan, committee chairman, said The Forks preliminary development proposals match what the public said it wants for the site.

"They want to see public space, they want to see vibrant space and they want to have a role in development as its moves forward," Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) said.

City council still needs to approve the project.

The project involves 4.9 hectares on two parcels of land: the Rail Side site, a Forks-owned concrete parking lot immediately north of Citytv's studio, and Parcel 4, a city-owned gravel parking lot briefly considered in 2012 as the site for a hotel and water-park development.

When the public reacted angrily to the water-park project, city council asked The Forks to conduct a two-year planning and consultation process that resulted in the project.

Forks CEO Jim August told the committee the proposal preserves 60 per cent of the 4.9 hectares for public space, adding the 40 per cent allocated to private development will finance development on the public side.

The two parking lots are the largest parking lots in downtown Winnipeg.

August said while the public rejected residential plans for the site in 2000, the public is now willing to accept a mixed-used development that still preserves a great deal of space for public access.

"We're not designing the buildings, we're just putting some standards together," August said.

The Forks expects the private sector to invest $200 million on five sites during the next six to seven years for residential and commercial development.

The Forks will be responsible for building a terraced park and parkade on the Rail Side parcel and the urban plaza and a second parkade on Parcel 4.

The Forks wants city hall to declare the Parcel 4 land surplus, as a sign of commitment to development, and agree to transfer ownership for development.

The committee unanimously endorsed the proposal.

"There's the old song, 'Pave paradise and put up a parking lot,' but we're going the other way here," Coun. Jeff Browaty said. "We're taking a parking lot and building paradise."

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, whose ward includes the historic property, said The Forks administration did what council asked it to do.

"There's a lot of very exciting things about" the project, Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 8, 2014 B2

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