August 15, 2020

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Opinion

40-storey apartment tower planned for Portage and Main

Official announcement expected as early as next month

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/3/2016 (1600 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Portage and Main, the symbolic heart of Winnipeg, may be about to get a shot of adrenalin that should quicken the pulse of the whole downtown.

The entire city for that matter.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A highrise residential building project at Portage and Main may be announced as early as next month.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A highrise residential building project at Portage and Main may be announced as early as next month.

Winnipeg-based Artis REIT is said to be in the late stages of planning a towering rental residence at the windy corner, right next door to the nearly four-decades-old 360 Main, which is the city’s third-tallest office building.

The $140-million project would not only include the construction of a 40-storey apartment tower, but the $35 million recladding of 360 Main, the 30-storey office tower formerly known as the Trizec Building, and owned by Artis, the real estate investment trust headed by CEO Armin Martens.

An official announcement of the project is expected as early as next month, but word of the development’s planning has already reached the street. A call to Martens requesting comment on the project went unreturned Monday.

Of course, plans for the soaring structure just south of 360 Main would include a penthouse floor, with panoramic views of The Forks, and beyond. Plus a sub-penthouse level. But at least 10 per cent of the units would be classified as "affordable," which could make the building attractive to at least some of the young Winnipeggers who are among the thousands of people who work at the corner that was named by the Canadian Institute of Planners as one of the Great Places of Canada.

With the existing nearly 1,000 parking stalls and the convenience of shopping in Winnipeg Square, along with a planned-for space for a place to buy groceries, the apartment tower has the potential to provide the kind of self-contained and growth-promoting downtown living that city planners have coveted for decades.

It would, in fact, satisfy at least three of the four goals set out in the 2011 Downtown Residential Development Strategy.

❚ To increase the population of the downtown.

❚ To create dense residential clusters.

❚ To promote residential buildings and neighbourhoods in order to develop a downtown that reflects the income diversity of the whole of the City of Winnipeg.

The same document puts all of that in a civic-pride perspective.

Winnipeg Free Press archives</p><p>June 4, 1974: Conceptual plans were unveiled at a special meeting for the $80 million Winnipeg Square development at Portage Avenue and Main Street.</p>

Winnipeg Free Press archives

June 4, 1974: Conceptual plans were unveiled at a special meeting for the $80 million Winnipeg Square development at Portage Avenue and Main Street.

"Winnipeg’s development plans have identified the downtown as an important part of the city’s image, influencing how visitors and residents experience and think about Winnipeg. One key indicator identified in Plan Winnipeg 2020 Vision was ‘More people working and living in the downtown.’"

As for the developer, who would be investing in the apartment tower, what makes it easier and more attractive is Artis already owns the whole property.

Plus — and it’s another big plus — the planned apartment tower would be constructed on an existing foundation pad that could launch the building to completion much faster. Back in the 1970s, the construction of that pad — which was literally a foundation for the future — in fact, the planning of the whole 360 Main development — was overseen by the far-sighted city commissioner Donald MacDonald. He also envisioned the development of a CN Railway property we now know and celebrate as The Forks.

The city council of the time, lead by Mayor Steve Juba, can also take credit for the imagining of future growth at our iconic intersection even prior to 1979, when 360 Main — then known as the Commodity Exchange tower — was constructed and connected to the underground maze of merchants.

Which, of course, famously — or infamously depending on your point of view — lead to the still controversial free-flowing of vehicle traffic but the blockage of pedestrian traffic in the very heart of our city.

That’s a discussion that the construction of a towering apartment building near Portage and Main is certain to, you know.

Reopen.

So to speak.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca 

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