Down, set, build? Real estate firm seeks to develop apartments at site of old Winnipeg Stadium
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High-rise apartment dwellers could soon be living above now-vacant land where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers used to play.
Nearby, multi-storey apartment buildings could rise where surface parking lots currently exist around Polo Park shopping centre.
It’s just two of the proposals that could become reality if Shindico Realty Inc., can persuade city councillors to rezone the land where the Winnipeg/Canad Inns Stadium used to sit and the targeted surface lots.
Shindico, in partnership with Cadillac Fairview (which owns Polo Park and is the real estate arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan), said the plan would spend more than $1 billion to transform the 84 acres of land during the next decade.
Mayor Scott Gillingham said while he couldn’t comment about the specific proposal, he has long been in favour of having the two sites filled with multiple-unit housing.
“I believe these lands are well-suited for multi-family development,” Gillingham said Thursday.
“It’s great to see the airport protection area map (has) changed to allow multi-family housing projects. And to develop along Portage Avenue on mall property is something I campaigned on… We need more housing in the city and more affordable housing in the area.”
The proposed multi-storey housing would stretch across the majority of the Polo Park parking lots facing Portage Avenue, down the parking lots facing St. James Street, and north to the vacant lot where the stadium was located.
New buildings would be constructed after a building next door to Polo Park, which used to house CJOB AM radio, is demolished.
Between parking structures under residential buildings and expanded parkades, the mall should end up with about the same number of parking spots it has now, Coun. Shawn Dobson (St. James) said.
“I think it is an absolutely great idea to bring in more residential units to that area. There will be more shoppers for Polo Park. People in St. James will have more options to stay in the community. There are so many positives to this,” he said.
“We’re really excited” about the first stage of the development planned for the former stadium site,” Shindico general counsel Justin Zarnowski said.
“We want to have the ability to build apartment buildings up to 150-feet high. We think 12 storeys is the sweet spot, but some will be six storey and some will be 10 storey. It will be a very high-class development. We don’t have an exact number of how many (residential) units there will be, but we’re saying thousands. It would probably break out to be about 4,000.”
Shindico president and chief executive officer Sandy Shindleman said in a statement: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a vibrant community around the most successful shopping centre on the Prairies. Shindico is excited to have attracted this significant investment in Winnipeg.”
Early drawings show several apartment buildings on the L-shaped parcel of land from Empress to St. James streets and from Maroons Road north to St. Matthews Avenue.
In the future, there will be other buildings constructed nearby, on parking lots around the Polo Park mall itself, Zarnowski said, adding existing parkades would go from two to four stories, while new residential buildings would have underground parking or structured parking on the first floor.
While most of the current stadium and mall sites are void of greenery, once developed, the area will have trees, plazas and areas for people to walk around, plus transit access, Zarnowski said.
“This is to show what it will look like. We’re not planning to demolish anything soon, but the more shoppers who live in the neighbourhood, the better for the mall. This has a lot of people there 24-7. That is huge for establishing a vibrant neighbourhood,” he said.
The proposal bacame possible after the provincial government decided in 2021 to redraw the maps, which since 1994 had restricted new housing to be built near Winnipeg’s airport.
The restrictions had been put in to prevent complaints by potential new residents about airport noise that could threaten the hub’s 24-7 operations.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Thursday, January 12, 2023 4:10 PM CST: Photos added.
Updated on Thursday, January 12, 2023 4:50 PM CST: Fixes typos, minor edits