August 17, 2019

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A new future for parking lots

MPI seeks plans to redevelop pair of parcels

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/12/2011 (2807 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba Public Insurance is offering to take a major role in the redevelopment of two sprawling surface parking lots it owns in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

The Crown corporation says in an expression of interest (EOI) document obtained by the Free Press its role could be as a co-developer of the two sites or to provide additional funding for the projects.

One thing it won't do, the document states, is sell the lots, one of which is south of Graham Avenue between Hargrave and Carlton streets, and the other south of St. Mary Avenue between Donald Street and Hargrave. It says the goal of redeveloping the lots is to create additional long-term revenue that can be used to keep Autopac insurance rates as low as possible.

The other thing that won't happen, as reports have suggested, is that the Carlton Street property will become a giant outdoor plaza.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/12/2011 (2807 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The parking lot south of Graham Avenue between Hargrave and Carlton streets is one of two MPI wants redeveloped.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The parking lot south of Graham Avenue between Hargrave and Carlton streets is one of two MPI wants redeveloped.

Manitoba Public Insurance is offering to take a major role in the redevelopment of two sprawling surface parking lots it owns in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

The Crown corporation says in an expression of interest (EOI) document obtained by the Free Press its role could be as a co-developer of the two sites or to provide additional funding for the projects.

One thing it won't do, the document states, is sell the lots, one of which is south of Graham Avenue between Hargrave and Carlton streets, and the other south of St. Mary Avenue between Donald Street and Hargrave. It says the goal of redeveloping the lots is to create additional long-term revenue that can be used to keep Autopac insurance rates as low as possible.

The other thing that won't happen, as reports have suggested, is that the Carlton Street property will become a giant outdoor plaza.

Although CentreVenture Development Corp., the city's downtown develolpment arm, wants public meeting space included, CEO Ross McGowan said Friday "under no circumstances do we want to see just a public plaza on that site."

He said what CentreVenture wants is high-density, mixed-use, tax-generating developments that could include a combination of office, retail, residential, parkade and hotel space.

"If the development is done properly, we won't need to worry about public space, because it will be integrated into it."

He said he could see highrise towers going up on the sites, maybe with offices, restaurants, bars or retail shops on the ground floor and apartments above, or a parkade below and office or residential space above.

"But let's let the request-for-proposals process play out and see what proposals there are," McGowan said.

MPI also calls for mixed-use development in its document, which was prepared in conjunction with its EOI document issued to developers late last week.

MPI spokesman Brian Smiley refused Friday to speculate on what the development might include.

"At this point, we're staying very open-minded about what will happen with these two parcels of land. The corporation's vision is going to be strongly influenced by the EOIs we receive."

Its Carlton property will play a key role in CentreVenture's plan to create a sports, hospitality and entertainment district (SHED) in an 11-block area of the downtown that straddles both sides of Portage Avenue. That's because it's situated between the SHED's two main anchors — the MTS Centre and the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Don White, past chairman of the commercial division of the WinnipegRealtors Association and co-manager of the investment services group at Colliers International, said both MPI sites have excellent development potential because of the SHED and other projects unfolding downtown.

He said he expects local and national developers to submit bids.

White agreed there's room for more commercial buildings in the area, including retail, office and residential structures, but especially residential and retail.

For an office development to work, it will likely need a signature tenant willing to rent 35 to 50 per cent of the building, he said. A good example is Longboat Development Corp.'s hotel/office/retail development to be built on the north side of Portage Avenue, with Stantec, the national building consulting firm, as the anchor tenant, he said.

Jino Distasio, director of the University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies, said it's important that any new parkades be mixed-used structures with retail or office space at street level. MPI says redevelopment proposals must include enough new parkade spaces to replace the 340 surface stalls being eliminated.

"The key piece is it has to be an excellent design," Distasio said. "The last thing they want in the downtown is a building that's easily recognized as a parking structure."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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