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West Winnipeg councillors quickly OK Target store plan

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The proposed Polo Park Target store easily cleared its first hurdle at city hall Tuesday as west Winnipeg councillors took mere minutes to approve a plan for the U.S. retailer's 144,000-square-foot store on the current Canad Inns Stadium site.

City council's Assiniboia community committee voted unanimously to approve plans for a two-storey Target store that would rise on 3.2 hectares of land at the northwest corner of the 10.6-hectare stadium site.

At the end of the 2012 Canadian Football League season, the Winnipeg Football Club plans to move into new offices at Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba.

Once the Blue Bombers vacate the premises, the city intends to conclude the $30.25-million sale of the Canad Inns Stadium site to a partnership between Polo Park Shopping Centre owner Cadillac Fairview and Shindico Realty.

This partnership would then make the northwest corner of the old stadium site available to Target, said Shindico development manager Bob Downs. But this development needs to clear several more hurdles before it is certain the U.S. retailer will choose to build on the site, he said.

For starters, a traffic-impact study must be completed. But the city already plans to use about $20 million from the stadium sale proceeds to improve traffic flow in the Polo Park retail district.

Another $7.5 million of sale proceeds will help finance the $190-million Investors Group Field stadium, according to the terms of a stadium-funding deal approved by council in 2010. The remaining $2.5 million in proceeds will be spent on recreation improvements at the University of Manitoba.

St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, who represents the Polo Park area, praised the stadium sale for allowing new development to take place in the busy shopping area while providing funds for infrastructure improvements. He also praised the somewhat urbanist design for the Polo Park Target store, which would feature enclosed parking on the ground floor and retail space on the second floor.

This design is more appropriate for an urban area because enclosed parking reduces the need for a sprawling exterior parking lot, said planning consultant John Wintrup, a former city employee now working on behalf of Target.

This building design would also be more pedestrian-friendly than a conventional big-box store and will include bike racks for customers and a bike cage for employees, he said.

If all goes well, development could proceed as soon as the existing tenant moves out, said Wintrup, adding he's a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan and would have preferred the club hosted a playoff game this season.

That's unlikely, as the Bombers sport a 4-10 record, with four games left in the 2012 CFL season.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 10, 2012 B2

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