U of M student digs take shape

'The Arc' should be open for 2020 school year


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The tower that’s steadily rising on the southwest corner of Bison Drive and Pembina Highway could be home to University of Manitoba students as early as the 2020 school year.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/11/2019 (1012 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The tower that’s steadily rising on the southwest corner of Bison Drive and Pembina Highway could be home to University of Manitoba students as early as the 2020 school year.

The 16-storey, mixed-use building will be called “The Arc,” and will house 368 student-oriented, furnished rental units with 570 beds. The ground floor will include commercial units, said Winnipeg-born Henry Morton, owner of Toronto-based developer Campus Suites. Bay Street investment firm Forum Equity Partners is co-owner of the Winnipeg project.

“Our goal is to be finished for this coming summer,” said Morton, who expects the building’s concrete structure to be complete by year’s end.

An architect's rendering of The Arc at 2525 Pembina Highway. (Supplied)

Campus Suites develops student apartment buildings near universities across Canada, with completed projects in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Morton said the complexes tend to appeal to students in their second year of university or beyond, after they move out of on-campus housing.

“Given our proximity to campus, we expect we’ll have a fair foreign student component,” he said. “They tend to appreciate what we’ve done around the country, because we have access-control systems, we’re (within walking distance) to campus.”

Campus Suites projects also incorporate a community lifestyle component, Morton said, like group TV nights or holiday celebrations. One-, two- and four-bedroom units will be available in the Winnipeg building, with rents averaging more than $1,000 per bed for a 12-month lease. Units will come with free internet, TVs and furnishings including beds, desks and dressers.

Solomon Israel / Winnipeg Free Press Construction is well underway at 2525 Pembina Hwy. Possible tenants for the ground floor include a medical office and restaurant.

“As you grow in number of tenants, your kitchens grow, your bathrooms grow and your communal space within your unit grows,” Morton said.

Morton expects the rentals will compete with other apartment buildings in the area, but said the project isn’t trying to go head-to-head against the illegal rooming houses that have mushroomed around the University of Manitoba.

“We think of ourselves as great value for the money. We’re not the most price-sensitive,” he said.

“Because we do have all these things, we do have modern life safety (code). They come fully furnished. It comes with free high-speed internet. It comes with gyms and study rooms and on-site management… That’s not what non-code-compliant housing is striving to do.”

Coun. Janice Lukes has been fighting illegal rooming houses in her Waverley West ward and enthusiastically supports the Campus Suites project, citing long wait lists for student housing at the University of Manitoba. (Over the past five years, an average of about 350 names have been on the university’s housing wait lists during peak application times, the U of M said.)

Even though the new rental suites will presumably cost more than rentals in illegal rooming houses, Lukes is confident the new project will improve the student housing market near the university.

“It’s definitely going to make an impact,” Lukes said.

“Sure, if kids only have 500 bucks (per month), they’re still going to live in these other accommodations. But what is going to happen, I truly believe, it is going to alleviate the pressure and it’s going to make it maybe not as lucrative for these slum landlords.”

Morton said three or four units could occupy the building’s ground-floor commercial space. He’s received preliminary inquiries from possible tenants including a medical office and a fast-casual restaurant, which he expects might appeal to students, residents of other nearby buildings and Blue Bombers fans looking for a bite to eat before heading to a game.

Even though The Arc is aimed at U of M students, Morton said it’s open to others.

“So if we have some kids who are a couple years, or a handful of years older, who are at the innovation centre, which is halfway to campus, I suspect we’ll capture a number of those people as well, as an example.”

The Winnipeg Campus Suites project will be the company’s fourth or fifth student rental development to be completed in Canada.

Another Campus Suites project, “The Hub,” is being built near the University of Calgary.

Know of any newsworthy developments in the local office, retail, industrial or multi-family-residential sectors? Let us know at business@freepress.mb.ca.


Twitter: @sol_israel

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