Public invited to pitch redevelopment ideas for PSB, civic parkade site

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The public is being invited to participate in a year-long consultation to come up with a new use for the vacant Public Safety Building property and the adjacent civic parkade.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/01/2017 (2146 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The public is being invited to participate in a year-long consultation to come up with a new use for the vacant Public Safety Building property and the adjacent civic parkade.

The process is being led by CentreVenture, city hall’s downtown development agency.

“I believe this area represents a tremendous opportunity to further refine and renew the Exchange District and to better connect the east and west exchanges and build a downtown we can all be proud of,” Mayor Brian Bowman said at a news conference Tuesday to kick off the consultation process.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Student Jackson Brandt shows his project called "The Pulse of the Exchange", which includes a skate park, to Mayor Brian Bowman and Angela Mathieson, Chief Executive Officer, CentreVenture.

With several projects designed by undergraduate landscape students as a backdrop, Bowman and CentreVenture executive director Angela Mathieson explained how the consultation process will eventually lead to a redevelopment of the 2.4-acre property, most likely sometime in 2018.

Mathieson said the public is invited to weigh in on CentreVenture’s website as to how the location, dubbed the Market Lands, should be developed.

Based on input from the public and neighbourhood stakeholders, CentreVenture will present to council in the spring a concept on how the two properties should be used, she said. If approved, CentreVenture will develop more specific uses for council’s consideration by the end of the year.

“This really is an important site,” she said. “It has been a centre of civic and community life since the founding of the city of Winnipeg…. It really is a fulcrum or centre point on so many of the amazing, emerging assets that we have in our downtown.”

The property that was home to the former police headquarters was gifted to the city in 1875 with a caveat that it remain in the public use, which has prevented a sale to private developers.

The parkade, which is not subject to the same caveat, was hastily shut down in 2012 because it was found to be structurally unsound. It could not be demolished at the time because its underground was still being used by the Winnipeg Police Service and there was concern demolition would impact the PSB. The police have since relocated in the former Canada Post building on Graham Avenue.

The administration recommended demolishing both the PSB and the parkade, selling the parkade land and developing the PSB site as a public green space. However, officials said other alternatives could see the property developed in a civic campus design, which would include either a large or smaller parkade.

Bowman didn’t want the PSB building saved — it opened in 1966 and is considered an example of brutalist architecture — and argued it should be demolished in favour of a public meeting place.

He said Tuesday that demolition of the two buildings won’t occur this year.

Mathieson said a formal request for development proposals will likely be sent out early in 2018, after council approves an official plan for the site.

Bowman said he is eager to see the ideas to come from the community, adding there has been tremendous development throughout the downtown in the last 15 years and there are several significant projects on the way, including the under-construction $400-million True North Square and a multimillion-dollar project from Artis REIT for a new residential and commercial tower at 360 Main Street.

“I want to continue building on this momentum,” he said about the PSB site. “I want to continue building on a downtown where increasingly people can live, work and play. I’d like to see a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly (development), a place that engages and excites Winnipeggers about downtown.”

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

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