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This article was published 20/7/2015 (1681 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A string of new infill developments is helping bring new life to two of St. Boniface's oldest commercial strips: Marion and Goulet.
The most recent developments include five infill projects on Marion Street and one on Goulet Street.
The Marion Street projects include the redevelopment of a two-storey retail/office complex on the northeast corner of Marion and Taché Avenue; the redevelopment of an older apartment block on the southeast corner of the same intersection; a new four-storey condominium complex at the corner of Marion and Traverse Street; a new one-storey, 2,400-square-foot retail strip mall on another corner of the same intersection, and a new A&W Restaurant next to the Marion Hotel.
And on Goulet, which is one block north of Marion, there's a new Winnipeg Regional Health Authority community access centre under construction at the southwest corner of Kenny Street.
"Marion and Goulet have always been good commercial strips for many years," Normand Gousseau, chief executive officer of Enterprises Riel, said in a recent interview. "But when you think about all of these pieces, there's a lot going on on those two streets."
Gousseau and Mark Thiessen, a sales-and-leasing associate with Re/Max Professionals, said several factors are contributing to the surge in infill development in the area.
One is the rising cost of parking in the downtown, which is prompting some businesses to look at areas in close proximity to the downtown, such as St. Boniface and West Broadway, Thiessen said.
"I think Marion, and following behind it Goulet, are going to both benefit from being close to the downtown," he said. "What will happen there will be similar to the lift the two blocks of Sherbrook (Street) recently received from Wolseley (Avenue) to Broadway."
Thiessen said while Marion went through a period where quite a few of its retailers relocated to the suburbs, "Now you're really seeing a rejuvenation of it... You've just got a vibrancy on."
Gousseau also noted most commercial strips periodically go through phases where older buildings are either refurbished and given a new lease on life, or demolished to make way for something completely different. And both of those things are happening right now on Marion and Goulet, he added.
A good example of the former is the two-storey brick building Enterprises Riel owns on the northeast corner of Marion and Taché. Gousseau said the building likely dates to the 1940s or '50s, "And it's at that stage in its economic life where it needs to be revamped and brought up to date."
So this fall and winter, the 13,000-square-foot structure will be getting a facelift. New windows will be installed on the second floor, some bricked-up windows and doorways on the Taché side will be opened up again, and new canopies will be installed on the Taché and Marion sides of the building. An elevator will also be installed to provide wheelchair access to the second floor. The cost of the project has not been finalized.
Gousseau said the exterior renovations are being done to make the building more attractive.
"(The corner of Marion and Taché) is kind of a point of entry into St. Boniface from the city, and we think it warrants a building that has some curb appeal."
The building's two tenants — a second-hand clothing shop (Signatures) and a medical supplies store (Open Access Resource Centre) — will remain open during the renovations. And once the work is completed, the corporation hopes to find a new retail tenant for the vacant main-floor unit that used to house a PharmaPlus pharmacy.
The plan is to lease the second floor to medical-related tenants — maybe some doctors' offices or some type of medical clinic. Gousseau said with the St. Boniface Hospital campus only a couple of blocks away, there is a growing demand in the area for that kind of commercial space.
He cited the condo/retail complex at the corner of Marion and Traverse Avenue as a good example of an older property that's being converted to a new and better use. The gas station that used to be there has been demolished to make way for Les Gars Condos.
The project's developer is Winnipeg-based Nisum Developments, which also built the three-storey Goulet Place condo/commercial complex at the corner of Goulet and Traverse.
"(Nisum co-owner Nick Pavel) likes St. Boniface," said John Rodrigues, the leasing agent for Les Gars. "He has lived and worked in St. Boniface pretty much since he came to the city. He likes that small-community atmosphere and he likes that type of European feel."
Rodrigues said Les Gars Condos includes two commercial condos and four live/work units on the ground floor and 28 residential condos on the top three floors. The residential condos include one- and two-bedroom units, many of which range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet. Prices range from $229,900 for some of the one-bedroom units on the ground floor, to $1.2 million for a 2,800-square-foot penthouse suite, one of which is still available.
Rodrigues said the two penthouse condos are not only bigger, they also boast 10-foot ceilings, bigger windows, higher-end finishings and better views.
He said more than 60 per cent of the condos, including all of the one-bedroom and live/work units, have already been sold.
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 204-697-7254.
Updated on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 7:54 AM CDT: Replaces photo