Downtown development agency CentreVenture is working with Longboat Properties -- a real-estate company owned by Winnipeg's Chipman family -- to redevelop land across from MTS Centre as part of a broader plan to create a new sports, hospitality and entertainment district that would encompass several blocks of downtown Winnipeg.

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A proposed hotel development is in the works across the street from the MTS Centre.

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

A proposed hotel development is in the works across the street from the MTS Centre.

Downtown development agency CentreVenture is working with Longboat Properties -- a real-estate company owned by Winnipeg's Chipman family -- to redevelop land across from MTS Centre as part of a broader plan to create a new sports, hospitality and entertainment district that would encompass several blocks of downtown Winnipeg.

The redevelopment of the Mitchell Copp and A&B Sound buildings on the north side of Portage Avenue into a new commercial and hotel development would be a piece of a plan to revitalize the most development-resistant stretch of Portage Avenue, CentreVenture CEO Ross McGowan said.

The development could also help True North Sports & Entertainment -- owned by the Chipman and Thomson family -- develop a stronger financial base to fund an NHL team in Winnipeg, a move considered plausible, if not inevitable in the coming years.

True North spokesman Scott Brown, however, insisted the purpose of the development has nothing to do with the NHL's potential return.

CentreVenture has already begun to lobby the city and province to create a tax-increment-financing zone, or TIF zone, in this section of downtown Winnipeg to pave the way for mixed-use development. TIF zones allow new property tax revenue on properties in blighted areas to flow back to the developers or fund other improvements in the area.

If all goes well, a sports, hospitality and entertainment district, or SHED would encompass areas both north and south of the MTS Centre, McGowan said.

The guts of this plan was made public in April, when CentreVenture revealed an "action plan" to breathe new life into Portage Avenue. Highlights included dividing the downtown around Portage into four distinct districts, seeking to have the area designated as the city's first TIF zone, extending the pedestrian skywalk system westward to the University of Winnipeg -- and redeveloping the former Mitchell Copp/A & B Sound buildings as part of the multi-million-dollar mixed-use project..

CentreVenture acquired the former Wild Planet building across the back lane from the other two buildings for possible conversion into a hotel, residential units and retail space, McGowan said in April.

CentreVenture was also trying to acquire several other properties in the same block between Portage and Ellice avenues and Donald and Hargrave streets. Some of the land assembly is already complete.

Both the city and province must agree to create a TIF zone. All levels of government are reluctant to be seen to do anything to support professional sports, but the creation of a TIF zone is seen as a less-contentious means of financing because it involves a flow of tax dollars that don't exist now.