The downtown Medical Arts Building will be home to more than 100 apartment units, along with office and retail space, when redevelopment is finished next year.
Workers are somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent finished with the project. Completion is anticipated in spring 2020, said Colleen Krempulec, executive director of marketing with developer Timbercreek Asset Management.
"We’re basically taking it back to the studs, investing in entirely new systems, new elevators, we’ll be putting retail at (ground level) and creating 104 rental units in total, and they’ll be loft-style rental units," said Krempulec.
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries bought the medical office tower at 233 Kennedy St. for $7.9 million in 2015, with plans to turn it into the provincial Crown corporation’s head office. That decision went under review after the Progressive Conservatives took power in 2016 and appointed a new board of directors to MLL, who nixed the development plan. Timbercreek bought the 15-storey building from MLL for $15.5 million in 2017.
The 104 lofts will include 39 one-bedroom units measuring 677 square feet each, and 65 two-bedroom units at 892 square feet. Rent prices have yet to be determined, but none of the units will be considered affordable housing.
"They’ll be market rates, on probably the upper end given that they’re newly constructed," Krempulec said, adding that the apartment building will include some "condo-quality" amenities like a fitness centre and a party room.
The renovated building will also retain more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space, including some office space. The ground-floor retail space will likely be filled by a tenant whose business brings value to the building’s residents, Krempulec said.
"Grocery, convenience, coffee, that type of thing."
Timbercreek has not yet decided whether or not to rename the Medical Arts Building, which still houses two doctors’ offices. Krempulec said those remaining tenants will be relocated by the end of the summer.
Angela Mathieson, CEO of the City of Winnipeg’s downtown development agency CentreVenture Development Corp., said new residential construction like the Medical Arts Building project show the city’s two-decade-long push to densify downtown Winnipeg is working.
"There has been a bit of pent-up desire for people to live downtown, but it’s people who really want to see a quality product, and I think that sounds like that’s what they’re going to deliver here," said Mathieson.
In combination with non-residential downtown development like the MTS Centre, Mathieson said, Winnipeg is becoming more attractive to potential residents, be they individuals or companies.
"Having a healthy downtown is absolutely critical, and your downtown is healthier when you have people who are living there 24 hours a day. It means the streets are safer, the coffee shops are fuller, the shops are more successful."
Sherri Rollins, city councillor for Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, said she’d like to see more affordable housing in her ward and across Winnipeg. But a diverse mix of housing types is also important, she said, and she expects the redeveloped Medical Arts Building to be a positive contribution to the downtown neighbourhood.
"The neighbourhood is used to going into that Medical Arts Building and getting services, so that retail at grade is great, and you’ve got a pretty dynamic corner there at any rate, so it fits in really well," Rollins said.
The project will be Timbercreek’s seventh multi-residential building in Winnipeg. Executive director of marketing Colleen Krempulec said the developer is keen on the central Winnipeg market.
"We don’t see ourselves as a buy-and-sell real estate investors. We’re long-term community builders, and so it wouldn’t be a surprise to build on the platforms that we already have in existing cities, where good strategic opportunities arise."
Solomon Israel is a full-time reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and for two years, the lead writer for Free Press cannabis news site, The Leaf News. He continues to provide coverage of the cannabis beat while covering business in the city and province.