March 26, 2019

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Developer takes plans for vacant Academy Lanes building to councillors Tuesday

A local developer is hoping to roll a strike with councillors Tuesday when he unveils his plan to redevelop the historic Academy Uptown Lanes building in River Heights.

The developer wants to convert the building at 394 Academy Rd. into a mixed-use, residential, commercial and office space.

If approved, the exterior of the building, which opened as a movie theatre on Christmas Eve in 1931, would be maintained. The interior would be gutted to accommodate the construction of 23 residential units on the third floor, four spaces for offices on the second and two ground-floor retail units.

The city’s planning department supports the project and is recommending approval of several zoning and development amendments that have been requested.

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A local developer is hoping to roll a strike with councillors Tuesday when he unveils his plan to redevelop the historic Academy Uptown Lanes building in River Heights.

The developer wants to convert the building at 394 Academy Rd. into a mixed-use, residential, commercial and office space.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

If approved, the exterior of the building, which opened as a movie theatre on Christmas Eve in 1931, would be maintained. The interior would be gutted to accommodate the construction of 23 residential units on the third floor, four spaces for offices on the second and two ground-floor retail units.

The city’s planning department supports the project and is recommending approval of several zoning and development amendments that have been requested.

"The proposal maintains the use of a building with significant heritage value. Through this redevelopment project, the urban planning division supports the work of the applicant to establish a use for the heritage building that will carry it into the future," urban planner Andrew Ross said in his written recommendation to the committee.

"By retaining this building which has significant heritage value, the proposal provides the opportunity to protect and conserve a major heritage asset and maintain its presence as part of the Academy Road streetscape into the future."

The project is being spearheaded by Jeff Pratte of Landmark Planning. He did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. His proposal will be considered Tuesday night by the three councillors on the City Centre community committee.

For nearly 60 years, the building was home to the five-pin Academy Lanes. In the summer of 2017, the Britton family — who have owned the business for more than three decades — announced July 18 as the date the final pin would fall.

The owners cited increasing property values in the neighbourhood that made continuing to operate in that location economically untenable. However, following an outpouring of community support, the closing date was pushed back indefinitely. The doors were closed in July, a year after the original announced date.

The committee will consider a series of applications connected with the project, including: rezoning the property from commercial to mixed residential; allowing an increase of residential units than what is currently allowed; and allowing the project to proceed without on-site parking. The residential, commercial and retail parking spaces required will be provided on an adjacent property.

An administrative report to the committee states that the planning department supports the amendments, considering them minor in light of the developer’s plan to protect the heritage elements of the building.

The building was converted into a bowling alley in 1960 and it received heritage status from the city in 1986.

At an open house in July, Pratte said the rental units would vary in size from 800-1,200 square feet, with 4,000 square feet of office space on the second floor.

The Brittons' new location at 1301 St. Matthews Ave. features a significant expansion of services, including 30 lanes of bowling, laser tag, an arcade, a lounge and a restaurant.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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