A lease on luxury
Deluxe apartment tower taking shape in Tuxedo
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The owners of a shopping strip in the city’s wealthiest neighbourhood have identified the site of a longtime gas station on Corydon Avenue as an untapped residential resource.
IG Mackenzie Real Property Fund, a mutual fund that has over $4.6 billion in assets, has decided to redevelop the former Shell Canada station, which operated for decades in the Tuxedo Park Shopping Centre, into a 13-storey, 84-unit deluxe rental apartment tower called Atelier Living.
In recent memory, there has been significant development of apartments in the Sterling Lyon area, which has become somewhat of a satellite of Tuxedo, but within the confines of the neighbourhood itself, large rental real estate of this size has not been added in years, said Allan Borodkin, president of Dynasty McCOR Development Inc.
Borodkin, whose company is serving as development manager for the project, said it will be the first residential investment in Winnipeg by the property fund, which holds several commercial assets in the city.
That decision — to rezone a long-held property to residential — was made, Borodkin said, after a major renovation to the shopping centre, and was spurred on by the impending expiration of the gas station’s long-term lease.
With architect Raymond Wan, the landowners explored various avenues for redevelopment, and ultimately determined a residential tower, which would densify the commercial corner, would be the best use, Borodkin said. The property fund stakeholders were more interested in rentals than condominiums because it wanted to retain ownership, Borodkin said.
But in order to attract the type of potential tenant such a project sets out to woo, the building had to meet high standards of luxury. The large, open floor plan units — the smallest comes in at 1,119 square feet, the biggest at 1,501 square feet — are to be lit by floor-to-ceiling windows, part of the glass curtain wall that will cover the building exterior. Premium rates will apply to the top two storeys, which are allocated for penthouse suites. The finishes in all the units (which will feature nine- and 10-foot ceilings) are more in step with what one might expect in a non-rental property, and amenities will include a dog-wash facility, gym and concierge service. And while rents have not been set, it is likely a fair assumption these will be among the more expensive rental units in the city.
Despite some opposition elsewhere in Tuxedo to the concept of rental apartments — notably a street-long stand on Shaftesbury Boulevard earlier this summer, when residents erected signs reading “Single Family Houses Only” and “No Apartment Blocks” — Borodkin said no such opposition occurred with this project, likely owing to its commercial location.
Anecdotally, the main complaint has been the loss of the gas station. When the project came before the community committee for approval, Borodkin said there was little to no pushback.
Before construction and site work began, the former gas station had to go through both demolition and intense remediation processes, including geotechnical engineering services to test the soil, undertaken by Shell Canada.
Borodkin said those reports were approved by the province, and that the landowners hired independent geotechnical surveyors to be sure the ground met all standards for construction.
In April, excavation and shoring of the site began, and is still being done. By the end of the month, it’s expected that piling will start, marking the beginning of what is anticipated to be a two-year construction process. The building will also include an 84-unit underground parkade, and residents will have access to 60 parking spaces in the shopping centre lot, which will be reconfigured following the tower’s completion.
Once complete, Borodkin said he is confident that there will be a clientele eager to move in, and that the building’s quality will speak for itself.
“The landowners want to do right for the city of Winnipeg, for their clients, for the neighbourhood too,” Borodkin said. “We feel it will be second to none not just in Tuxedo, but in all of Winnipeg.”
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.