Another piece of the Main Street revitalization puzzle will fall into place with the expected opening this fall of an new artist market just a stone's throw north of city hall.
The Compendium Artist Market is a new venture by Ryan Poworoznik, a local graphic designer/artist/photographer who is converting a 2,400-square-foot building at 5641/2 Main St. into an arts-themed, mixed-use space that will include an art gallery, a craft market, a photography studio and an organic coffee/juice bar.
The building, which is on the northwest corner of Main and Rupert Avenue, has been vacant since 2005, when Siloam Mission moved out and sold it to Winnipegger Glennys Hardie.
Hardie and her husband, Les Johnson, also own the small building next door at 560 Main St. and operate two of their companies -- Simpson McGrath Inc. and Manitoba Institute of Management Inc., out of there.
Hardie is also an artist, so that makes the pending opening of the Compendium Artist Market extra special for her.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that Ryan is doing what he's doing in there," she said in an interview.
"I think he is going to do well... and I think he's going to fill a niche in the market. There aren't a lot of places for emerging artists to show their work."
CentreVenture Development Corp., the city-owned downtown development agency that has spearheaded the Main Street revitalization efforts in recent years, is also pleased to see a tenant moving into one of the last vacant buildings on the strip of Main Street between William and Higgins avenues.
"It's also very important... in that it's a project that is totally grassroots, with no public-sector involvement," said Loretta Martin, the agency's director of development. "The public sector invested in some strategic properties (on Main Street) and now the private sector is coming to the table. That's been the experience in most North American cities with their revitalization efforts."
Martin noted a new office building under construction on the west side of Main Street just north of Higgins Avenue is also a private-sector project.
Hardie said she had contemplated converting the building into an artist's studio for herself.
"But then Ryan came along so we decided to rent it to him."
The interior of the building had been stripped down to the bare walls, so Poworoznik has a free hand in developing it the way he wanted. That includes installing all new mechanical systems, new framing and insulation, a wooden floor and ceiling, bathrooms, an office and a separate room for the photography studio.
"I... liked that the space I chose didn't have to be deconstructed to create the look I wanted," he said. "Instead, I had an empty slate to work with, which also allows me to make it more eco-friendly and energy-efficient than trying to work around a space that's already been started."
The only drawbacks are renovations are proving to be time-consuming and costly, he added.
Poworoznik said he plans to open the art gallery, craft market and photography studio at the same time, and add the coffee/juice bar later when he has the funds to purchase the necessary equipment.
He wanted to make it a multi-faceted space to generate more revenue and make the venture economically feasible.
The photography studio will be rentable by the hour, the craft-market tables will be rentable by the day, and the space on the art gallery walls can be rented by the week based on linear footage.
In addition to the regular offerings, Poworoznik also plans to hold a variety of other events and activities in the space, including film screening.
"Film screenings will include local work, as well as documentaries on social issues and popular/classic movies to promote and provide inspiration for themed art shows," he said.
"We're also hoping to have one fashion show a month, either featuring local designers or local boutiques and what they have to offer. Other events we will hold are pop-up dinners, intimate musical concerts, theatrical shows, business meetings, lectures, meditation and yoga classes, as well as weddings events. We're open to anything."
Poworoznik originally looked at several sites in the Exchange District because there are a number of other art galleries and graphic-design studios in the area.
"But there are many other requirements that I had, which made that impossible. The space had to be fairly large, and it had to be on street level. I looked at a few other locations... but nothing fit that criteria."
Poworoznik also likes the idea of doing something he hopes will help make Winnipeg a better place.
"Obviously, downtown and Main Street fall under that umbrella, but I'm just excited to bring something new to Winnipeg that's missing. If this business takes off and does well, I'm hoping to create many more businesses in Winnipeg. I'm also looking forward to working with various local entrepreneurs and offering my help to anyone thinking about opening a business in the city."
Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.