A new age

Edgy-looking downtown condos designed with youth in mind


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Waterfront Drive's latest condominium project is looking like something out of this world.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/11/2011 (4149 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Waterfront Drive’s latest condominium project is looking like something out of this world.

Green Seed Development Corp. and 5468796 Architecture Inc. are putting the finishing touches on their design plans for a proposed $6.0-million, 40-unit condo development to be built on MacDonald Avenue just west of Waterfront Drive.

“It kind of looks like a spaceship,” Green Seed president Mark Penner said of the circular structure that will rest on stilts about nine metres (three storeys) above the ground. “It’s pretty space-age.”

The development at 62 MacDonald Ave. — tenatively named 62M — is sandwiched between Green Seed’s other condo development on Waterfront, called You Cube, and the Disraeli Bridge/Freeway.

Penner said they’re putting the building on stilts to raise it above the height of the bridge and the You Cube buildings. That way, residents will have an unobstructed view of the downtown and the nearby Red River.

And it’ll be round, rather than square or rectangular, because it’s a more energy-efficient design, said Johanna Hurme, a partner in 5468796 Architecture.

The unusual design is also keeping with the ultra-modern, edgy style 5468796 is becoming renowned for, both locally and in international circles. Its other award-winning creations include the You Cube development and the Cube outdoor stage in Old Market Square. It was also a co-designer of the Centre Village housing development on Balmoral Street, along with Cohlmeyer Architecture. The Cube and Centre Village projects earned the two firms two nominations in the World Architecture Festival competition held earlier this month in Barcelona, Spain.

Green Seed and Winnipeg businessman James Buhler, of Wallace & Wallace Fences Ltd., had originally planned to build apartments on the site. When the project encountered unexpected delays, Buhler decided to pursue other investment opportunities and Green Seed recruited some other investors and changed the focus to condos.

Penner said he and the other silent partners in the project are confident the edgy design and the more affordable price point — $150,000 to $170,000 — will appeal to buyers. Particularly younger adults. “We wanted something that appeals to that young professional who wants to live downtown but can’t afford to pay $250,000 or $300,000 or more for a condo.”

They expect to begin marketing them next spring, and will likely have to pre-sell about half of them for the project to proceed. Construction will hopefully get underway late next summer and is expected to take about a year to complete.

Bill Thiessen, a real estate agent with Re/Max Professional Realty who has been active in the downtown condo market, said Green Seed and other downtown developers such as Qualico are on the right track in trying to keep their selling prices below $200,000.

“You still need some luxury or higher-end condos,” Thiessen said. “But it would be nice to see 75 per cent of the new units coming on board at less than $200,000. That would be a springboard for some really strong sales.”

To keep prices below that threshold, the 62M condos will be smaller — 500 to 700 square feet. But with rising construction costs, Thiessen said smaller is becoming the new norm for more affordably priced downtown condos or apartments.

That price point also makes the condos more attractive to investors looking to buy them and rent them to someone else.

Penner said that’s what happened with about six of the 10 units in Phase I of the You Cube development. And that’s what Green Seed plans to do with most of the smaller, lower-priced units in the Phase II — rent them out rather than sell them.

The 13 Phase II units will range in size from 500 to 1,100 square feet and will be priced at between $140,000 and $300,000. Construction is expected to get underway within the next few months and should take about a year to complete.

There are two other previously announced condo projects underway or about to get underway on Waterfront Drive. One is M2 Engineering’s H2O One and H2O Two projects on the former Gateway Soap property on the northern half of the picturesque riverside street. The other is Phase II of Sunstone Resort Communities’ Sky Waterfront development, which is on the southern half of the street where the other three original Waterfront condo developments are also located.

Thiessen said foundation work has begun on the first H2O building. The development, which will have 86 one- and two-bedroom units in all, is expected to take about three years to complete. Work on the second building will begin as soon as the first one is completed.

Thiessen said the H2O units will range in size from 700 to 1,100 square feet and will be priced at between $200,000 and $250,000. He expects to begin marketing them in April.


Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 697-7254.


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