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Opinion

A plan to convert the top two floors of the former Osborne Village Inn into micro-apartments has been scrapped.

Instead, they will be redeveloped as boutique office space, one of the listing agents for the Osborne Street property said.

Ken Yee, senior vice-president of Cushman & Wakefield Winnipeg, said the developer — Winnipeg’s Fusion Capital Corp. — had second thoughts about going with apartments because of the type of retail tenants that likely will open on the main floor of the three-storey building.

Yee said it looks like the 4,600 square feet on the north half of the main floor will likely be leased to a pizzeria bistro and to a western-based coffee house.

A restaurant/bar with an outdoor patio is the likely tenant for the 4,900 square feet on the south side of the floor.

Converting it to office space "Became more practical, given the tenancies we were attracting on the main floor," he explained.

"It made more sense from a noise-level standpoint because an office tenant would be leaving work around 5 (p.m.) or so... and we wouldn’t have to be worried about quiet enjoyment, so to speak."

This is the second time the redevelopment plans for the hotel have changed since it closed in 2015. The original plan called for it to be converted into a boutique hotel with 20 to 30 rooms on the top two floors, a restaurant and lobby area on the main floor, and a stand-alone bar in the lower level.

The furnished micro-apartments that were part of the second plan were small — 250 to 450 square feet — and expensive at $975 to $1,400 a month, including utilities.

Some suggested that while they might be a good fit for pricier cities such as Toronto or Vancouver, they would be a tough sell in the Winnipeg market.

However, Yee had no interest in wading into that argument.

"We didn’t go too deep into that (testing the market for micro-apartments)," he said, "so it would be unfair to comment on whether or not there would have been ample demand."

There should be ample demand for new boutique office space, he said, since there isn’t a lot of that available in Osborne Village. He noted there is a new six-storey office complex under construction at the intersection of Osborne, Pembina Highway and Donald Street, but that’s at the southern edge of the Village.

Yee said there is about 8,000 square feet of space on each of the top two floors, and the kinds of tenants he thinks that might be interested in the space include massage therapists, physiotherapists and doctors.

"And we don’t have a bunch of it (space), so we should be alright."

Yee said the north half of the main floor will likely be leased to a pizza bistro and a coffee house.

A Western Canadian restaurant chain and "a strong local group" are interested in the leasing the other half of the main floor, while the building’s lower level likely will be leased to a "new-concept-bowling offering," he added.

"It will have a nice, hipster-like theme to it. It will be different from the bowling alleys of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s."

Yee said they hope to have leasing deals finalized this fall, and to turn the spaces over to the new tenants before Christmas.

"But they probably won’t be opening for business until early in the new year," he said.

 

Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, industrial or multi-family residential sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca