Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Countdown to takeoff

Financing for unusual condo project secured

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One of the city's most distinctive condominium projects -- it looks like a giant spaceship hovering four storeys above the ground -- is nearly ready for liftoff.

Winnipeg's Green Seed Development Corp. has secured the financing for the project after pre-selling half the 40 units in the $6-million complex, company president Mark Penner said in an interview.

"So 62 McDonald will be built," Penner said, adding all that's needed now is the building permit from the city. And the project's architect -- 5468796 Architecture Inc. -- hopes to have that in time to begin construction in the spring.

"We're working on the construction drawings... and discussions have started already with the city's planning department," said Johanna Hurme, a partner in 5468796 Architecture.

The project is called 62M after the address where it will be built. The property is at the corner of McDonald Avenue and Waterfront Drive, next to the Disraeli Freeway/Overpass.

The building will be circular in shape, two storeys high, and will sit on a pedestal 11 metres above the ground. There will be 20 condos per floor, each 608 square feet in size. They will all be wedge-shaped, with a seven-metre-wide, floor-to-ceiling wall of windows.

Hurme said they went with a circular design and pie-shaped units to create a more efficient floor plan. And the building is elevated to provide an obstruction-free view in all directions.

"Those two decisions are really what drove the design. We often get misrepresented as wanting to just do something that's cool," she said. "But at the same time, it (the design) is very rational."

Penner said the units are priced between $195,000 and $215,000, depending on the view. The buyers so far have ranged from first-time homeowners who plan to live there to older investors who are buying a unit with the intention of renting it out. He said the complex is expected to take about a year to build, so if construction begins this spring, it should be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2014.

A little farther south on Waterfront Drive, Phase I of M2 Engineering's two-phase H2O residential development is already well underway, with the first 43-unit building expected to be completed by May or June.

M2 Engineering owner Michael Mark said Phase II, which also consists of one 43-unit building, should be completed about a year after that.

The one- and two-bedroom units were originally going to be condos. But after Phase I sales got off to a slow start, Mark decided to make them all rental apartments.

The apartments, which include 77 two-bedroom and nine one-bedroom units, will range in size from 725 square feet to 1,000 square feet. Mark said monthly rents will be $1,100 to $1,800.


-- -- --

It's official -- Milestones Grill and Bar will be the anchor restaurant tenant in the 311 Portage Avenue at Centrepoint development.

Michelle Constant, vice-president of retail leasing with the Winnipeg office of Cushman & Wakefield, has confirmed an earlier Free Press report that said the Ontario-based Milestones chain and a new restaurant concept by local Pizzeria Gusto owner Bobby Mottola were expected to be the main-floor tenants in the highrise office/retail/hotel tower under construction at the corner of Portage and Donald Street.

Constant, who is the leasing agent for the retail space in the $75-million Longboat Development Corp./Artis Real Estate Investment Trust development, said the Milestones casual fine dining outlet will be more than 9,000 square feet in size, and will face onto Portage.

"For a restaurant, that's very big. That's bigger than an Earl's or a Moxie's," she said. "This will be their flagship store in Winnipeg."

Constant said there were "multiple offers" for the space.

"They were all strong players. We also had people from Calgary and Edmonton."

Two reasons they opted for Milestones were that it was willing to take all 9,000-plus square feet of Portage Avenue space, and it was new to Winnipeg.

"For us, it was important to look for a concept that wasn't anywhere else in the city, because it then becomes a destination for all of Winnipeg."

Constant also noted the Milestones chain is owned by Cara Operations, which also owns the Harvey's, Montana's and Kelsey's restaurant chains. "So they're an organization that is very familiar with the Winnipeg market, which for us, was good."

Constant said Mottola's new 3,900-square-foot restaurant is an Asian/Latin-fusion concept and will face onto Donald Street. It will also be a first for the city, she added.

She said both restaurants are expected to open at the same time as the tower. Longboat president Scott Stephanson said that should be in September 2014.

Stephanson said the foundation for the tower, which will include a 14-storey Alt Hotel built on top of a five-storey office/retail complex, has been completed. The precast walls should start going up within the next couple of weeks, he added.


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 e-mail address below, or at 204-697-7254.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 B4

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