Housing proposals refine plans for Bishop Grandin development

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Hundreds of housing units could soon be added to a major 131-acre transit-oriented development.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/03/2022 (321 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hundreds of housing units could soon be added to a major 131-acre transit-oriented development.

Four new proposals aim to supply many of the homes envisioned for the Refinery District, also known as Bishop Grandin Crossing. The broader long-term development aims to transform the former Manitoba Sugar Beet Factory property, which is located north of Bishop Grandin Boulevard between Pembina Highway and Waverley Street.

City staff recommended approval of the detailed housing plans for four properties on Ballantrae Drive in the Chevrier neighbourhood.

An artist rendering of the Refinery District, also known as Bishop Grandin Crossing. (Hopewell Development)

The Refinery District’s developer says there is clear demand for new homes in Winnipeg’s hot housing market.

“We’ve sold out the residential portion of the property (to housing developers), which was a very pleasant surprise, in terms of how quickly the market reacted.… That’s gone ahead of schedule,” said Don Larke, senior vice-president of development for Hopewell Development.

The new housing proposals seek clearance to create a combined total of three six-storey multi-family buildings with 384 housing units, as well as 15 three-storey row house buildings with a combined 194 units on Ballantrae Drive, within a few hundred metres of the Plaza Drive rapid transit station. All of the land involved is currently vacant.

The 131-acre mixed-use development is expected to create 32 acres of multi-family housing, 43 acres of office and light-industrial space and 23 acres of commercial/retail space. In 2016, that was expected to produce 1,100 new multi-family dwellings that would likely be built over seven to 10 years.

A shift to some taller buildings may increase the total number of homes that get built, but it’s less clear if the retail component of the project will be completed by 2026, due to the effects of the pandemic on that sector, Larke said.

“The retail has lagged a little bit, obviously, in part because COVID in the last couple of years has not helped matters… (But) the market is turning and as more of the residential development starts getting occupied by people, (that) will help sort of fuel the demand for supporting retail/commercial services in this area,” said Larke.

For example, a Good Life Fitness club was expected to open in 2020, but is now set to do so next week after the pandemic “kind of put a wrench into the fitness business,” he noted. A Shell gas station and convenience store, along with the Bishop Heights apartment block, are already open.

Some tenants have also been signed up to use portions of a “flex office” building that can serve as office or warehouse space, which has already been constructed, Larke said. Two more flex buildings are planned but their timelines will depend on retail demand, he said.

“The look of that whole area is changing dramatically over the next year to year-and-a-half, (and) with… more population, the demand for other services is going to pick up,” he said.

Coun. John Orlikow, whose River Heights-Fort Garry ward includes the development, said residents of new homes could easily access rapid transit, which aims to entice them to use personal vehicles less.

The 131-acre development is expected to create 32 acres of multi-family housing, 43 acres of office and light-industrial space and 23 acres of commercial/retail space. (Hopewell Development)

“It just reduces the amount of need to use a car, which is good for the environment, and the built structure is quite dense as well so that also allows us to have more people per acreage, which really helps the City of Winnipeg (control) service costs (for roads and other infrastructure). It works quite well for the environment and (city finances),” said Orlikow.

City reports note the neighbourhood would include a “pedestrian circulation network,” with a walking path planned to connect pedestrians to the rapid transit station.

“Internally, it has all the sidewalks looped together so that people can stroll and go round the pond and it’s safe,” said Orlikow. “It allows people to be active in their neighbourhood rather than have to get in a car and drive to a park.”

Council’s City Centre committee will consider the housing plans on Friday.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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