A property that the city nearly traded in an infamous fire hall land swap nine years ago, could soon host a housing development.
A new report seeks council approval to sell vacant land at 409 Mulvey Ave. E., southeast of Confusion Corner, for $1.5 million.
Albatross Development Ltd. wants to build an 80-unit housing development, with 25 per cent of the homes considered affordable. The project would include a local craft brewery, ride-share parking stalls and outdoor bike storage, the report says.
The land, along with former fire halls at Grosvenor Avenue and Berry Street, was tentatively traded without council approval for land at 1780 Taylor Ave., where the city wound up building a fire-paramedic station on land it did not yet own.
The three-for-one land swap was cancelled in 2012 over its lack of council scrutiny, while an audit later found it was mismanaged and broke city rules. The Grosvenor and Berry properties have since been sold.
Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chairwoman of the property and development committee, said the new proposal for the land appears promising.
"We want more housing, we want more density and this does look like a piece of land that would be ideal for that," said Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre), noting the site is close to rapid transit. "I think it’s a very valid option."
Gilroy stopped short of saying she would support the deal, noting she still has questions about other options for the land and whether access to a riverside bike path would be lost.
The city’s first attempt to sell the Mulvey land fell through in 2014. Winnipeg Transit used part of the site as a temporary parking lot from 2016 to 2019, after which it was left vacant.
In an emailed statement, city spokesman Kalen Qually confirmed the current proposal includes the sale of the former parking lot area, not the bike path or a riverside police patrol compound. Sale proceeds would be used to offset the cost to buy 1780 Taylor Ave., which the city opted to do years ago after cancelling the land swap.
However, others are also interested in the property.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service wants the land to replace two Osborne Street fire-paramedic stations (No. 4 and No. 30), though that plan was not fully assessed and council hasn’t approved it, the report notes.
The report reveals the Winnipeg Parking Authority also once asked to manage its own surface parking lot at the site, which Qually said wasn’t deemed to be its "highest and best use."
Gilroy said she’ll seek more information about why internal city requests for the land were rejected to help determine how she’ll vote.
"I don’t think it’s a place where I would recommend a fire hall anyway but we should always find out what the department wanted the land for, and why, before making a decision on it," she said.
To be approved, the plan would require support from two-thirds of council, since the property is considered park land. The property and development committee will vote on it May 11.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.