Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Good value in the long run

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A view of the new Winnipeg Public Safety building taken on Oct. 25.

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A view of the new Winnipeg Public Safety building taken on Oct. 25.

Re: Fools rush in? (Nov. 18). When the furor subsides, will the new Winnipeg Public Safety headquarters turn out to be a good deal for Winnipeg? In today's dollars, will the per-square-foot cost of this very specialized building be good value? And, most important, will the location be seen to have been the best choice for a growing and vibrant Winnipeg?

I have had hands-on experience with the retrofit and adaptive reuse of downtown Winnipeg buildings. Albeit not on a scale of the old post office, the projects I have shepherded have had many of the same challenges. Had I had the knowledge then that I gathered from the experience, the projects, no doubt, would have been easier to complete. Each of them was a calculated risk.

Were city administrators too anxious in their pursuit of the old post office? Based on the land value and future value of the Graham Avenue office building, I say, no, they were not. What they paid, $31.5 million, was a good value for what they bought.

Was there risk involved in adapting a 1954 structure to today's codes? Yes, and in retrospect that risk might have been handled more effectively. Those who pursued what turned out to be a flawed process have either paid for their role in it, or have been called out to remedy their mistakes.

The new police station is brilliantly located, and when completed probably could not be replaced for the same cost, and it will serve a growing Winnipeg well for the next 50 years. And, for the naysayers, perhaps we could admit that some of our recent dynamic growth was helped along by the same group that made mistakes on the police station.

HART MALLIN

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 19, 2013 A8

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