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This article was published 2/10/2017 (258 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two Winnipeg churches are planning to redevelop their building or property in a bid to breathe new life into their struggling operations and enhance the community.
East Kildonan’s Immanuel United Church is partnering with both SvN Architects + Planners and Discovery Homes to build a 21-unit townhouse-style condominium development on a surplus piece of land behind its Golspie Street building. The condos would be targeted to area seniors and first-time homebuyers. About five of the units will be wheelchair-accessible.
Osborne Village’s Augustine United Church is hoping to partner with SvN and ReSolve Project Management Ltd. to redevelop a portion of its historic River Avenue building.
That project would see space within the church redeveloped to create a 10,000-square-foot daycare, a 5,000-square-foot dance studio and not-for-profit arts centre, a new church sanctuary and performing arts centre, and a 7,000-square-foot space for the Oak Table Inc. community ministry, which provides meals to low-income, unemployed and homeless people.
Both projects are in the early stages. Discovery Homes’ application to have the Immanuel church property rezoned for multi-family development is scheduled to be considered by the city this month, while the Augustine church project is still in the fundraising stage.
Barbara Myers, a local urban planner with SvN, said redeveloping church-owned buildings or land is one of those classic win-win scenarios.
She said many churches are struggling financially, with dwindling attendance and revenues and soaring maintenance costs for their buildings. Many of them also have excess land or large buildings with excess space, which could be converted to other community-oriented uses and create new income for the church.
"It’s a quiet little secret that nobody really realizes, but it’s a tremendous opportunity for Winnipeg," she added.
"By redeveloping their properties, they achieve two things: they create some financial stability (for the church) and they do good work for their community. It’s a really fabulous combination."
Myers said SvN is also in discussions with about seven Winnipeg churches interested in redeveloping their surplus land or part of their building.
"They’re all at various stages of very early development. They’re having assessments done of their properties and they’re having discussions with their congregations... I would love to see more churches get into these discussions with developers, or with us at SvN, and move in this direction because everybody wins."
Discovery Homes general manager Gordon Gray said it is also in discussions with several other local churches that are interested in doing a multi-family development on their property.
But those talks are also still in very early stages.
He said if the application is approved, Discovery could begin marketing the Immanuel Village condos in November and could begin construction in early 2018.
Bob Kenyon, chairman of the church’s Back 40 committee, said he’ll be surprised if the city doesn’t approve the project, noting they’ve already held two open houses to get feedback from area residents and modified design plans to address some of the neighbours’ concerns.
"Plus the property is just sitting there vacant, and you are putting 21 families there who are going to all be paying (property) taxes," and supporting businesses, schools and community clubs, he said.
Kenyon said church officials aren’t sure exactly how much money will be made from the project, but he noted the land had an appraised value of about $450,000 and the church will get a portion of the profit from the sale of each condo.
"So it’s a significant amount of money," he said.
He said the church will use some of the money to sustain its operations and will donate some to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, which is the archive for all curated materials related to the residential school system.
"We’re all on treaty land and they need some support in order to operate... so we want to help them out as much as we can," he said.
The condo development will consist of three buildings designed to create a "village." The units will range in size from 780 square feet to 920 square feet and Gray said the average price will be about $270,000. How quickly the project is completed will depend on how quickly the condos sell.
"We could build all three buildings in one calender year... but if sales are slow, then it will span two or three years," he said.
Myers said the rental income from the Augustine United Church redevelopment project would help bring financial stability to Augustine.
The new daycare would be run by Splash Early Learning Centre and the dance studio would be occupied by NAfro Dance Centre, a not-for-profit arts centre that’s home to independent artist collectives, dance schools and performance troupes. The Oak Table space would include a new commercial kitchen and the new church sanctuary and performing arts centre would include a new stage, exhibit lighting and an updated sound system.
Myers said the conceptual drawings for the Augustine project have been completed and the fundraising drive is underway. She wasn’t sure how much money the church hopes to raise and a spokesperson for the church could not be reached for comment.
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.
Updated on Monday, October 2, 2017 at 6:45 AM CDT: Adds photos