Waterfront site up for grabs

Prime Exchange location near Red River could hold apartments, condo complex


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One of the last development sites on Waterfront Drive — large enough for, say, an eight-storey apartment or condo project — is about to go on the market.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/04/2018 (1706 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the last development sites on Waterfront Drive — large enough for, say, an eight-storey apartment or condo project — is about to go on the market.

The 32,550-square-foot site is at the northeast corner of Waterfront Drive and Galt Avenue, current home to a surface parking lot and the Duncan Arena ball hockey facility.

It is the last development site on the 12-block Waterfront Drive that was completed in 2004 for about $9 million.

CENTREVENTURE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION The northeast corner of Waterfront Drive and Galt Avenue has been put on the market. It is currently home to a parking lot and an arena.

“It will be the end of a pretty successful story, we think,” said Angela Mathieson, the CEO of CentreVenture, the arm’s-length agency of the city.

It’s co-ordinated development for Waterfront Drive to the tune of $250 million in private investment, including nearly 500 new housing units and the conversion of 12 vacant or derelict building.

This last development property for which CentreVenture has now launched a competitive request for proposals process, required about a year’s worth of talks with two other property owners on the site to assemble the parcel into a size and configuration attractive for development.

“This one was a little more complicated,” she said. “When the city developed the land (formerly abandoned railroad spur lines that came up from The Forks) and determined to put the road in, it was designed purposely and smartly such that there would be these parcels of land along Waterfront Drive that could be then put out for development,” Mathieson said.

As the agent for the city, CentreVenture had the option to purchase that schedule of properties along Waterfront Drive for $1 each. Most were large enough for development on their own and became the locations for condo projects, including the Strand and Excelsior.

But this last one, because it’s situated on a bend in the Red River, was just too small for development of consequence.

Waterfront Drive. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Mathieson said CentreVenture was successful in obtaining the support of the other land owners.

“They were not really thinking about the revitalization of the downtown,” she said.

“We have developed a good relationship with them over the past year and through our discussions and some mutual learning and understanding, they kind of said, ‘We can be part of something bigger and better.’”

Because of the configuration of the property and the fact the city did own the strip of land fronting onto Waterfront Drive, the thinking was that it would be better for them to team up with CentreVenture than to try to dispose of or redevelop the properties on their own.

They realized the uncertainty over what might happen on the other pieces of the property which they would have no control over, made it a more attractive proposition to package the parcel up.

Downtown Winnipeg skyline as seen from the shore of the Red River along Waterfront Drive. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The two other owners — one who owns the parking lot and is a retired businessman and the other who owns the Duncan Arena and runs a ball hockey league out of that facility — are not developers.

Teaming up with CentreVenture, which will impose a development agreement as a condition of sale, will likely leverage greater value out of the property.

Although it was a more complicated packaging of land than it has had to undertake in the past on Waterfront Drive, Mathieson believes the property’s attributes — including fantastic sight lines to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and along the river as well as being across the road from the Alexander Docks which is at the beginning of a redevelopment process — will mean it will generate a lot of interest.

“The site is quite conducive to allowing for a fairly large development. We think it will be very sought after,” Mathieson said.

She would not disclose what sort of price they have in mind, but marketing material shows how the property could accommodate developments such as an eight-storey 112,000-square-feet multi-family residential building with 105 units or two buildings totalling 160,000 square feet and 150 units.

The traffic roundabout at Waterfront Drive and Bannatyne Avenue. (Winnipeg Free Press files)

Development agreements are standard in CentreVenture land deals. As a condition of sale, the new owner must commit to a certain scale of development by a certain date. If development does not take place in the agreed upon time frame, CentreVenture will buy back the property and charge a fee to cover its costs. CentreVenture has entered into an option agreement with the other two land owners that it will exercise at a pre-determined price based on the market response. It does not have to actually buy the land if such a deal does not materialize.


Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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