Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

In downtown development, hype reigns supreme

Only two of nine towers planned are being built now

  • Print
Pumping station redevelopment: A mixed-use tower is still theoretical.

Enlarge Image

Pumping station redevelopment: A mixed-use tower is still theoretical.

On paper, the prospects for high-rise construction have never looked better in downtown Winnipeg, where developers hope to build nine new towers over the next three years.

But across the entire expanse of downtown, you'll find a grand total of only two cranes operating at high-rise construction sites.

Despite the presence of plenty of optimism, it remains far easier to hype a new tower in this town than it is to secure the cash to actually build such an expensive project. Every developer and their dachshund may wish to build a downtown Winnipeg highrise, but the fact remains there are only two of these towers under construction at the moment.

On Assiniboine Avenue, east of the Midtown Bridge, Winnipeg's Crystal Developers is well into the $45-million construction of Heritage Landing on Assiniboine, a 25-storey apartment tower. This is the project that was pushed off surplus city land on Fort Street following an outcry over the proximity to Upper Fort Garry's former footprint.

The other tower is rising on the northwest corner of Portage Avenue and Donald Street, where Winnipeg's Longboat Development Corp. has erected the bones of a 20-storey hotel-and-office building. This is the heart of Longboat's $75-million Centrepoint complex, which faces MTS Centre.

Given the slow pace of downtown development, these two structures are significant additions to the heart of the city. But until more building permits are issued and more cranes wheel into place, this pair of projects is pretty much it.

Even ardent downtown boosters would be forced to concede it's unlikely all seven of the other towers proposed for downtown will actually materialize. That's because most of the projects involve condo units that must be sold in advance in order for developers to secure the financing they need to actually start construction.

"They're all dabbling in the presale market for sure," said Ross McGowan, president and CEO of downtown development agency CentreVenture. "As a developer, you want to test the waters, (regardless) of what the banks might want."

On Graham Avenue, for example, Toronto's Fortress Real Developments and Mady Development Corp. have declared their intention to build Winnipeg's tallest building, a mixed-use high-rise structure the could max out at 42 storeys. Fortress and Mady are planning to hold a media launch on Sept. 6 to generate interest in the project -- as well the advance sales required to actually make it happen.

Winnipeg's Longboat has already sold units in Glasshouse Skylofts, a 21-storey tower it hopes to build on Hargrave Avenue as part of the Centrepoint complex. Although the prospects appear encouraging, there is no green light for construction just yet.

Even D Condo, a virtually sold-out tower planned for the former Restaurant Dubrovnik site on Assiniboine Avenue, remains in the planning stages. A building permit has yet to be issued for the proposed 24-storey tower, the City of Winnipeg confirmed.

Creswin Properties, the Asper family firm, is still trying get its Project W off the ground on Main Street, just north of the existing 201 Portage Ave. tower. The 28-storey hotel-and-office tower remains in the "due-diligence" stage, Creswin president Dan Edwards said in a statement Tuesday.

Two towers planned for the Manitoba Public Insurance-owned surface lot west cityplace are even further away from development, as Longboat and ARTIS Real Estate Investment Trust are still fine-tuning the concept for what's they've dubbed So/Po Square. The original option to develop this land south of Graham Avenue expired in June but has since been extended, said MPI spokesman Brian Smiley.

The ninth and final tower proposed for downtown doesn't even have a developer attached. That would be a highly ambitious plan to erect a 24-storey tower on the site of the historic James Avenue Pumping Station, which downtown development agency CentreVenture has been trying to shop for decades.

"There is a whole lot of positioning going in right now," said Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone. He too concedes it's unlikely every one of the proposed towers will actually get off the ground.

Nonetheless, even hype is good for downtown Winnipeg at this point, he maintained.

"We are literally creating a new market where none has existed before," Grande said. "There is more interest today in doing a whole whack of projects than there has been at any time over the past decade."

Hopefully some of that interest is backed up by cash -- and actual shovels in the ground.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Do the proposed towers promise an improved downtown? Or are they pie in the sky? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2013 B1

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 6:41 AM CDT: Adds photo, changes headline, adds question for discussion

12:01 PM: Adds map; removes sidebar, which includes same information.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kevin Cheveldayoff announces Maurice contract extension

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • A squirrel enjoys the morning sunshine next to the duck pond in Assiniboine Park Wednesday– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott.

Bartley appears every second Wednesday on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. His work has also appeared on CBC Radio and in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, explore magazine and Western Living.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives
Email: bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google