Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Residents praise hotel makeover
Merchants Hotel to be turned into community hub
Area residents who live near the Merchants Hotel say they are looking forward to the troubled landmark being converted into a community hub.
A number of community organizations announced plans earlier this month to redevelop the North End hotel as a community space. Preliminary plans for the building call for retail space, an educational centre and housing.
Area resident Alan Enns said he thinks the project will have a huge impact on the surrounding community.
"It will be a different flavor to the community. I bet there will be more traffic, but a better clientele," Enns said while walking his dog on Selkirk Avenue.
The hotel, located at 541 Selkirk Ave. near Andrews Street, opened in 1933. It has long been criticized as a magnet for violent crime.
The North End Renewal Corp. is taking a lead role in the redevelopment of the hotel.
The property was purchased by the provincial government at a cost of $1.3 million. It closed for business last month.
The province is assisting the community coalition and will hold the property until a development plan is established and implemented. The plan is expected to be completed within the next six months.
Area resident David Walsh said the project will provide the neighbourhood with more than just additional housing.
"It is a chance to guide the neighbourhood back to more respectability," Walsh said.
Nearly 20 North End organizations will be involved in the Merchants project including Urban Circle Training Centre Inc., the Selkirk Avenue Business Improvement Zone, Andrews Street Family Centre, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, University of Winnipeg, Red River College and SEED Winnipeg.
"With so many eyes on the project, this one can’t fail. Talk about community," said resident Sandra Michaluk.
Diane Roussin, executive director at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, said the redevelopment of the hotel is part of ongoing efforts to improve the neighbourhood.
"It is by working together that we are able to realize this vision," she said.
Arthur Gunn, co-owner of Gunn’s Bakery owner and vice-president of the Selkirk BIZ, said the project is an indication of the willingness of community stakeholders to work together.
"Sure there’s a different look to the street now — but agencies and business are working together to move forward," he said.
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(1 of 9 articles for this week)06/18/2013 10:21 AM 0