Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2018 (417 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The cost to demolish the Public Safety Building and the adjacent parkade is on the rise.
City of Winnipeg officials now estimate the demolition of both structures at $12.09 million, an increase from the $10.7-million estimate provided to councillors in July 2017.
The latest figure is contained in an administrative report to the Sept. 4 meeting of the property and development committee.
Councillors are being asked to approve a demolition schedule that would have some of the work carried out by the end of 2018, with the removal of hazardous materials. The bulk of the demolition would be carried out in 2019, and site preparation for redevelopment in early 2020.
The PSB had been the downtown headquarters for the Winnipeg Police Service for more than 50 years. The WPS moved into the former Canada Post warehouse at 245 Smith St. in 2016.
The parkade was closed in 2012 because of structural concerns.
The property the former police headquarters is built on had been gifted to the city in 1875 with a caveat it remain in the public use, which prevents the city from selling it to private developers. The caveat does not apply to the parkade property.
Redevelopment of the 2.4-acre site, now dubbed the Market Lands, will follow a proposal from CentreVenture Development Corp. (an arm's-length agency of the City of Winnipeg), which had launched a public consultation initiative in January 2017. The CentreVenture plan, based on the public consultations, recommended the property be developed with a mix of public, commercial and residential uses.
Demolition of the six-storey PSB sparked some controversy within the community. Heritage and architecture advocates urged city hall to preserve the building. Civic officials said the cost of saving the building could reach $60 million and recommended against that option. Others in the community felt the building’s modernist design was simply too ugly, and it should be demolished.
Mayor Brian Bowman was an early proponent of clearing the site, and his position hasn't changed.
"That is prime real estate in our downtown. That property can do a lot more than its doing right now," he said.
"You’ve got two buildings there that were obviously custom built, whose needs have long passed. The demolition will cost but, obviously, we’ll be recouping much more in property taxes down the road provided the development is a positive one."
Council approval will be required for how the former PSB site will be retained as public space.
The current $12.09-million demolition cost could change again. The report says the figure is a Class 3 estimate, which could vary from 20 per cent less to 30 per cent higher still, depending on final figures.
The administrative report said, pending council’s approval of the demolition cost, the property could be ready for redevelopment before the end March 2020. Starting the hazardous abatement work now, the report states, would result in an earlier completion date.
Of the estimated $12.09-million price tag, council only has set aside $1.63 million, with the Winnipeg Parking Authority. The rest of the funds would have to be borrowed.
Officials had predicted some of the demolition and site preparation costs could be recovered when the parkade portion is sold to private developers.
— with files from Erik Pindera
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.